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Notebook: Wings back in routine

by Dave Burke / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Before boarding their plane for northern California, the Red Wings put in a hard practice Wednesday, skating at a high pace with an emphasis on one-on-one drills and penalty-killing exercises.

The extra rest was a luxury, given the minor injuries to star forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, but some of the players admitted a readiness to get back to the business of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It’s good to know who you’re going to play in the second round,” Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We’ve been sitting around here waiting for almost a week, so it’s good to finally know.”

The Wings were in the exact opposite position last spring.

“Well, we played two nights before going into San Jose to play that first game, so you like to get a couple more days in,” Lidstrom said. “That’s just the case with the playoffs.  It’s a brand new year and we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”

One of those injured players, Zetterberg, is good to go for Game 1 and chomping at the bit after having to watch the entire first round from the sidelines.

“We’ve had a week here to get in some good practices, work on face-offs and refresh, so were ready to go,” Zetterberg said. “This week was real good for me, I was able to practice full out and the next step is to play in games. I’m fired up and healthy and really excited to be back playing.” 

Franzen, another player on the mend, is a bit more of a question mark for Friday’s opener at San Jose, but not if you ask the power forward. When asked how he felt after the skate, he answered, “Good”. And if he’ll play Friday, he answered with a simple, “Yeah”.

Franzen agrees with his captain, that the rest between series was welcome.

“Yeah, last year we got thrown right into it and they (Sharks) might have been a little bit fresher than we were,” he said.

The similarities between the Wings and the Sharks are easy to see on the surface. Both have good depth, lots of offensive firepower and stout defenses.

“They’ve got real good depth up front, three lines that can score, one that checks and is physical and their backend has improved and a goalie who’s won the Stanley Cup already,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’ve got a good team and will present a good obstacle for us and were looking forward to it. Last year they ended our season, and that, in and of itself, should have us a little fired up.”

A WANTED MAN: Center Pavel Datsyuk doesn’t have the boisterous personality that his countryman, Alex Ovechkin has, but he may have gotten a little bit of his due in a Sports Illustrated feature that hit newsstands this week.

“I never saw it (article), but I’ll have to check it out,” Babcock said. “I never thought much about it, but I think Pavel is one of those guys that is an elite, elite player, has been for a long time. His personality is such that he’s an unbelievable teammate and a great man. He doesn’t share himself with the media and the public as some guys do and that’s why in some ways he goes under the radar. He’s been up for all of these trophies for a long time and I don’t think he’s really under the radar, he’s a pretty good player.”

LATE NIGHT: With the Chicago-Vancouver game determining the Wings’ opponent for the conference semifinals, did some of the players stay up? Or did they just find out in the morning? 

“I just found out in the morning,” Lidstrom said. “My kids told me, they stayed up and watched and told me the highlights about it.”

Some preferred just to get a good night sleep, while others, like Zetterberg, went the night owl route.

“Yeah, I watched the whole thing,” he said. “It was a little longer than I had hoped it to be, but yeah, I couldn’t go to sleep. I had to see it.”

INJURY UPDATE: Defenseman Ruslan Salei, who Babcock said was battling a “boo-boo”, left practice early on Wednesday. 

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