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Wings' Datsyuk still not likely for Game 3

by Shawn P. Roarke
PITTSBURGH -- Despite holding a commanding two-games-to-none lead on Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final, the Detroit Red Wings know they will have to be better in Tuesday's Game 3.

And, most likely, they will have to improve without the presence of Pavel Datsyuk, one of the three candidates for the League's regular-season MVP award. Datsyuk remains hindered by a slow-healing foot injury suffered in the Western Conference Final.

"They had another look at him today and everything seems to be fine," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said at the team's media session at downtown hotel here this afternoon. "Now, it's up to him."

Yet, Tuesday seems unlikely as Datsyuk is still aggressively rehabbing the injury. Plus, Babcock has the cushion of a 2-0 series lead. It allows him to be patient with Datsyuk, instead of rushing him back.

That's why Kris Draper is unlikely to make a return in Game 3. According to Babcock, Draper was cleared for play on Sunday, but Babcock has liked what he has seen from his current lineup in forging back-to-back 3-1 victories.

"I don't know what I'm doing," Babcock said when asked about his lineup for Game 3. "I'm not a big change guy, especially when things are going good. We'll see."

No matter who plays in Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS), Babcock would like to see his team be even sharper than it was during the weekend.

"Well, we haven't been very smooth," Babcock said. "I thought last night we didn't have a great amount of energy, and didn't come out of our zone like we'd like. You've got to give them credit. They did a good job.

"I thought both teams dictated play at times in (Game 2). But both games when we've been ahead we haven't had on our foot on the gas. We've been cautious, and careful instead of just going after them. So we'll have to do a better job coming through the neutral zone and attacking in their zone."

After playing back-to-back games in Detroit, the Red Wings were happy to have Monday off. They believe it will allow them to get their legs back and be prepared for the intensity the Penguins will bring before a rabid home crowd at Mellon Arena.

"Everybody likes a little bit of rest," veteran forward Kirk Maltby said Monday afternoon. "This day off in between and nice short travel (between Detroit and Pittsburgh) is going to benefit everybody." 
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