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Notebook: Injuries present challenge

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Wrapping up home ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs before the season finale normally equals the opportunity to rest key players, but that wasn’t an option for Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

With an injury-depleted roster, Babcock had few options for resting the Wings’ key players before the start of the 2008 NHL playoffs. Tomas Kopecky’s torn knee in Thursday’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets is the latest addition to a long list of Detroit injuries this season. Kopecky will miss the entire playoffs and will have surgery to repair a torn ACL in the next few weeks. Detroit players have missed a total of 199 games this year because of injuries. Kirk Maltby (hamstring), Kris Draper (groin), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), and Brad Stuart (broken finger) all missed Sunday’s contest. 

Dallas Drake, Chris Chelios, and Brian Rafalski were healthy scratches for the Red Wings.

The Red Wings had a brief scare in the opening moments of the third period, when right wing Dan Cleary had the puck bounce off his stick into his face. Cleary left the ice, but returned later in the period. The 20-goal scorer missed 19 games from February 2 to March 22 with a fractured jaw.

A bright spot for the Wings’ injuries troubles was the return of Tomas Holmstrom, who missed 13 games after injuring his groin on March 5.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom stands next to the Presidents' Trophy before Sunday's season finale against Chicago. The trophy is given to the team that has the most points in the standings at season's end.
PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY JINX?: In the Sunday pre-game ceremony, Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom accepted the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the Red Wings after they secured the top overall record in the NHL on Thursday. The Red Wings have won the Presidents’ Trophy six times in the last 13 seasons.

The Red Wings (54-21-7) have finished with every different result possible in their past five Presidents’ Trophy-winning seasons: one conference quarterfinal elimination; one conference semifinal elimination; one conference final elimination; one Stanley Cup final elimination; and one Stanley Cup championship.

Only six of the last 21 teams with the best overall record went on to win the Stanley Cup in the same season. However, five of the last eight trophy winners have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, and three of them have captured the Cup.

The Presidents’ Trophy was first awarded in the 1985-86 season by the NHL’s Board of Governors.

MORE TROPHIES FOR THE GOALIES: With Sunday’s 4-1 win, the Wings’ pair of Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood wrapped up the Jennings Trophy, given to the NHL’s goaltending tandem for the team with the fewest goals allowed. Detroit’s goalies allowed a total of 184 goals this season. Red Wings goalies have not won the award since 1996, when Osgood and Mike Vernon were between Detroit’s posts. Hasek won the award twice, in 1994 and 2001, with the Buffalo Sabres.

WELCOME BACK, MAC: Darren McCarty recorded his first point with the Red Wings since March 31, 2004 on Sunday, tallying an assist on Jiri Hudler’s first-period goal. From behind the net, McCarty made a pass through a Chicago defender’s legs to find Hudler wide-open in front of the net.

Sunday’s game was McCarty’s third game of the season, after being called up from Grand Rapids on March 7.

GAME-CHANGING SAVE: Hasek helped preserve the lead for the Wings in the second period, when he robbed rookie phenom Patrick Kane. With 13 minutes left, Kane received a pass about 14-feet away and redirected it towards the right corner of the Detroit goal. Hasek slid across the crease, stacking the pads, and knocked the puck away with his left arm. Hasek then had to keep the rolling puck from climbing up and over him, by reaching up and snagging it before it got to the goal line.

Hasek caught a break later in the second, when the Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews fired a wrist-shot off his left shoulder. The puck bounced off his pads, and continued heading forwards, but landed on the top of the net.

HOME-GROWN TALENT: Canton, Mich., native James Wisniewski started the game for the Blackhawks to a nice ovation from friends and family in the crowd. The Wings’ Justin Abdelkader, who played his second NHL game Sunday, grew up in Muskegon. Abdelkader signed a three-year contract with the Red Wings on Friday.

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