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Modano returns to Wings' lineup

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – This is why Mike Modano came home to Hockeytown.

The veteran center will in the Red Wings’ lineup tonight, replacing Johan Franzen (ankle), in a critical Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena.

Modano, who enjoyed a decorated 20-season NHL career with the Dallas Stars’ organization, signed a one-year contract last summer for another shot at a Stanley Cup. The seven-time All-Star helped the Stars win the Cup in 1999.

He is expected to skate on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom – the same combination the he was matched with in his only other playoff appearance this spring.

“The game in Phoenix went pretty well, so you just kind of wait and see,” said Modano, of his situation. “You do your part to kind of be prepared the best you can, but until you get out there tonight and get those first couple shifts in, hopefully you can relax after that.”

Franzen, who was injured in Game 2 against Phoenix, labored through the first five games in this series. He skated for nine-minutes in Game 5, and doesn’t have a single point against the Sharks.
“This time of the year, for the Mule to do what he did, is pretty honorable,” Modano said. “Everybody tries to suck it up for your teammates and to win and to eventually move on series to series. He did what he could, he’s played hard, but I’m just excited to get an opportunity and hope to make the most of it.”

Besides his potential offensive production, Modano’s presence will be useful in the face-off circle, especially if Datsyuk can’t manage to take draws. The Wings’ top face-off men in the playoffs – with a 55.4 winning percentage – Datsyuk hasn’t taken a draw since late in the third period of Game 4.

“We’ll try to share the load,” Modano said. “I think it’s just wait and see how (Datsyuk) feels the first couple he takes, and then try to slide in.
“It’s been a while since I’ve taken them, but the way our wingers compete and help out, that’s a big advantage for us.”
In 16 playoff seasons, Modano has averaged nearly a point a game with 58 goals and 88 assists in 175 games.

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