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Game 3: Draper in, Miller out

by Jeff Sanford / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – After being scratched for the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals, Kris Draper will play in Game 3, according to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. 

At Wednesday morning’s press conference, which followed the team’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena, Babcock said that Draper will play against the San Jose Sharks, replacing forward Drew Miller in the lineup. Babcock also said that this was them, “Only lineup change at this time.” 

Draper was scratched after an unproductive Phoenix series, in which he didn’t register a point and had only one shot on goal. However, the Wings veteran has plenty of experience to fall back on. Draper has played in 16 consecutive postseasons dating back to 1993.

Obviously, Draper is eager to return to action after sitting out of two frustrating games at San Jose’s HP Pavilion.

“I’m looking forward to that first shift going out there,” he said. “And like I said, Game 1 and Game 2, personally it was tough. But it’s not about me. It’s not about one individual. It’s about the team and the Detroit Red Wings. Obviously, I wasn’t in the mix, but I stayed in the dressing room, I took warm up. I did everything I could to hang around with the guys and encourage the guys.”

Babcock hopes that Draper’s playoff experience will be an improvement over a shaky Miller, who has been nearly invisible in the semifinals thus far, tallying neither a point nor a shot on goal.

Draper’s optimism will undoubtedly be a lift for a Detroit team that is in an 0-2 series hole against the Sharks.

“We just got to win one game,” he said. “You win Game 3, it’s 2-1, and it’s a series. We know that and we believe that.”

And he should know better than most, having been on the 2002 Red Wings team that came back from a 0-2 deficit against the Vancouver Canucks to win four straight. Draper hopes to do the same against San Jose.

“Do we believe we can beat this hockey club?” he said. “Absolutely.”

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