|Kris Draper celebrates his first-period goal with Dan Cleary during Tuesday's 5-3 win over Calgary. |
– Kris Draper’s first-period goal in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Calgary was his first in 17 games. Later in the period, the Wings’ veteran center suffered his first sprained knee in years.
With 1:20 left in the first, Draper got tangled along the boards with the Flames’ Owen Nolan. Draper’s left leg seemed to buckle underneath him, forcing him to the ice, where he lay for a few moments.
“It was harmless, which is the frustrating thing,” Draper said Wednesday. “I know that I had my right leg planted and my left leg was kind of behind me a little bit. I don’t know if I just fell on it awkward, and there was a twist. But I’ve been hit a lot worse and been in a lot more vulnerable situations and didn’t have anything happen. Thhe frustrating thing is that it was a harmless play.”
Draper did not return to the game, instead, he drove himself to Detroit Medical Center for an MRI exam.
“They told me that it’s a knee sprain,” he said. “They gave me basic terms and told me that it’s going to be 10 days to two-week period.”
Draper’s absence will create some challenges for the Wings, who also practiced without Kirk Maltby (sore shoulder) on Wednesday.
“I think he’ll be fine, but Malts has not missed one practice since I’ve been here,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “If he didn’t practice that’s a little concerning. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Injuries to forwards Matt Ellis (headaches) and Tomas Kopecky (shoulder) has also caused problems for the Wings. Ellis hasn’t played since absorbing a crushing hit in Nashville on Thanksgiving night.
Babcock did indicate that Kopecky, will return to Thursday’s lineup after missing the last three games.
“I haven’t decided if we play seven D or we get a call-up,” Babcock said. “I’ll talk to Kenny (Holland) this afternoon and see where we’re at.”
The Wings (16-6-2) host Tampa Bay on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.
How will Draper’s absence affect his line with Maltby and Dan Cleary.
“Obviously, it’s a big void,” Cleary said. “He plays a real important part on our team, especially on our line and on penalty killing situations. He’s a defensive position shutdown guy, especially with face-offs. I mean, it’s a big loss for us. Hopefully it’s minimized to a game or a couple of games.”
Over the last several seasons, Draper has been one of the league’s best face-off men. He is currently No. 11 in face-offs won this season (227-of-376).
“I don’t know what Babs’ plan is right now,” Cleary said. “I think he might put (Johan Franzen
) with us. Either way we’ll be fine and adjust. We have to adjust.”
Draper also finds himself in an adjustment period, having to listen to Wings’ athletic trainer Piet Van Zant and team doctors.
“I’ve sprained an MCL before but that’s 10 years ago,” Draper said. “It’s not like I have a history of that. I guess it’s ice and hit the sauna, which is what I did today. As soon as I can do something, I’ll be in the gym making sure that I will knock a two-week injury down to 10 days. We’ll see.”