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Kopecky returns to lineup for Game 3

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
By Bill Roose

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Coach Mike Babcock will shuffle the Red Wings' line-up for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the Honda Center on Tuesday night.

Babcock announced following the team's practice on Monday in Anaheim that Tomas Kopecky -- who has been out since suffering a fractured clavical (collarbone) on Dec. 14 in Chicago -- will be inserted into the line-up for Game 3.

"I feel pretty excited. I feel pretty anxious," said Kopecky, following Monday's practice.

"It's pretty straightforward on our team," Babcock said. "It's not about the individual or anyone's name. It's about the team. Whoever's playing hard and making good things happen gets more ice-time. We don't evaluate at the end who got the ice time; we just look to see did we play the people that were playing the best. That's our focus."

Kopecky, who scored one goal in 26 games this season, will replace left wing Kyle Calder, who played last than four minutes in Sunday's Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena.

Following surgery to repair an open clavical fracture, it was originally expected that Kopecky would miss 10-12 weeks. A former second round draft pick in 2000, he's missed nearly 22 weeks.

"We're putting Kopy in because we think he can skate," Babcock said. "We think he can take the body. We think he can generate the forecheck for us."

Kopecky was injured in the third period of the Wings' 3-2 win against the Blackhawks at the United Center. As he approached the Chicago blue line, Kopecky went down and slid into the left boards before Blackhawks defenseman Jim Vandermeer fell on top of him.

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