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Wings will be ready even if Lidstrom, Datsyuk aren't

by Brian Compton /

"They didn't practice. Both guys are feeling better. We'll see what goes on in the skate (Wednesday) ... see if they're available for that skate."
-- Mike Babcock on Lidstrom and Datsyuk

DETROIT -- The team that skated to a 6-1 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in Chicago Sunday was the same squad that took the ice for practice Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena.

Just one day before they attempt to earn a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the Detroit Red Wings practiced without Norris Trophy candidate Nicklas Lidstrom and Hart Trophy finalist Pavel Datsyuk. Lidstrom was a surprise scratch on Sunday with a lower-body injury, while Datsyuk hasn’t played since taking a shot on the foot in Game 2 one week ago.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock is still hopeful that one or both will be back in the lineup Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBS, RDS), when the Red Wings will try to send the Blackhawks home for the summer.

"They didn't practice," Babcock said. "Both guys are feeling better. We'll see what goes on in the skate (Wednesday) ... see if they're available for that skate."

With or without Lidstrom and Datsyuk, the Wings are one confident bunch. They showed that Sunday when they dominated the host Blackhawks in front of a stunned capacity crowd at the United Center. While they knew Datsyuk wasn't going to play, some didn't find out about Lidstrom until arriving at the rink.

Still, they moved right along.

"I think Game 4 was as well as we could have played," said Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, who was forced to miss the third period due to dehydration. "Nick's a great player. Would we love to have him? Of course we would. Same with Pav. But we never rely strictly on one or two guys to win games or win series'. We're not putting pressure on any single one guy or putting pressure on Nick and Pav to hurry back."

Even though they have a 3-1 series lead, Babcock assured the media on Tuesday that neither will be given an extra day off unless it's an absolute necessity. Veteran forward Kris Draper has already been ruled out for Game 5 with a groin injury.

"If they're ready, they're playing," Babcock said.

But if they're not, the Wings intend on being ready -- just like they were for Game 4.

"I don't think there was any doubt we could win before that game," Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski said. "We have a lot of confidence in this room. We've gone through a lot of different scenarios. That was just another stone in the road that you have to overcome.

"We played a solid game all-around. The forwards did a great job, defense and goaltending ... everybody played a solid game. We were poised and we executed very well. All the guys in this room can execute when our minds are into it and we're doing what we're supposed to be doing."

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