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Holmstrom sits out Friday's practice

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
Holmstrom ended up in the Pens' net after he was tripped by Hal Gill in the third period of Wednesday's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH — Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom, who did not skate at Friday’s practice at Mellon Arena, may or may not play in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock characterized the injury as a “little problem” in the hamstring area.

The injury occurred when Penguins defenseman Hal Gill tripped Holmstrom coming through the defensive zone late in the third period of Game 3. Holmstrom did not play the last six minutes.

“Gill just can-opened me up,” Holmstrom said. “I felt something pull in my leg, and I tried to come back in the game, I thought do it between the commercial breaks, but I couldn’t — it was too numb.”

Holmstrom said he felt OK after riding a stationary bike on Friday and receiving treatment.

“I’m gonna skate (Saturday morning) and see how it feels like,” Holmstrom said. “If it goes like this, I think it’s going to be OK.”

Babcock was bombarded with questions about Holmstrom’s status in his post-practice press conference Friday, and at first didn’t want to answer.

He leaned over and asked Frank Brown, the NHL’s vice president of media relations, “What are the rules?  Do we have to talk about the injury or just what part of the body or what do we have to do?”

“The type,” Brown responded.

“I do a lot of stuff with kids cancer, and there's a thing called HIPAA compliance where you can never reveal anything about the person,” Babcock said.

“How come we have to do it in the league?” Babcock joked.

Laughter erupted in the room.

“Oh, anyway, Homer's just got … the hamstring,” the Wings coach said. “He's got a little problem there. We think he'll be fine. He's a tough guy.”

Babcock added that Holmstrom would decide if he was healthy enough to play in Game 4, and said that athletic therapist Piet Van Zant told him Holmstrom was “was way better than he expected today.”

If Holmstrom cannot go on Saturday, Babcock said Darren McCarty would likely be inserted into the lineup. McCarty has not played since Johan Franzen’s return in Game 2 of the Cup finals. Dan Cleary would move up to fill Holmstrom’s spot.

Even if Holmstrom doesn’t play, the Penguins were cautious to say if there would be much of an advantage to them.

“They have a lot of guys who can fill in that position as well,” Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. “You look at (Johan) Franzen. And Cleary plays there as well. So it's not like it's a vacant spot if he's not there. So I don't think we're really thinking about that a whole lot.”

Gill said his job would be slightly easier if he didn’t have to constantly battle Holmstrom, who has been the target of diving accusations from the Pens’ locker room.

“You can’t back off him too much, but you can’t hit him,” Gill said. “You hope that the refs will call it, but if they don’t call it, then they’re gonna call you. And then you can’t play off him too much. I don’t know; it’s a tough situation.”

Even though the hamstring problem came as a result of the constant beating he takes in front of the crease, Holmstrom said there was no way he was changing his game if he plays Saturday.

“I love it,” Holmstrom said while smiling on Friday. “I don’t mind it at all.”

Holmstrom has 12 points in 18 playoff games, along with 26 penalty minutes.

He added that this injury was unrelated to a groin strain that kept him out of the lineup for 13 games late in the regular-season.

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