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Red-hot Cleary trying to play it cool

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Red Wings forward Danny Cleary isn't wearing the same underwear until his goal streak ends.

 
He's also not taking the same, exact amount of steps from his car to his locker for practices, nor is he eating nothing but fried chicken. Over-the-top superstitious behaviors aren't for him.

He is wearing a new set of wrist bands each game and following the same basic game-preparation model, but not much more during a career-best goal streak of six games and career-best point streak of eight games.
 
"I'm not too crazy," Cleary said after Detroit's morning skate Friday in preperation for a game against Minnesota at Joe Louis Arena. "You try to keep the same routine. You stretch and you do your thing. Then once you get into the game you can't let little things affect your mind if you don't do them the same way. That part … I'm not crazy like that."
 
That doesn't surprise Wings coach Mike Babcock, who attributes Cleary's recent run of goals – eight in the last six games – more to work ethic and a confidence to pull the trigger on his shot.

"None of the good players are superstitious at all," Babcock said. "They just play. He's having success because he's playing hard first. Secondly, the puck's going in, so he's shooting the puck more than he normally would -- and if it goes in there must be a message in that."
 
The message?
 
Shoot the puck more and it will go in more. Seems pretty basic, which is why Babcock can't understand why more guys don't heed the advice.
 
"The guys who score the most goals every year shoot the puck the most," he said. "You'd think everyone would shoot the puck, but that's not how it works. When you don't score, you don't shoot the puck. That doesn't make any sense to me."
 
Cleary seems to understand the logic just fine, but it's his contribution at both ends of the ice that Babcock is most happy to see. With 9 goals and 14 points, Cleary is one of the Wing's top scorers, but his plus-5 rating is indicative of somebody who doesn't like having the puck get past his own goaltender while he's on the ice.
 
Cleary also has an affordable contract.
 
"The great thing about Dan Cleary is that in a (salary)-cap world … he can do everything," Babcock said. "That's what you need. You need guys who can do everything, because they've got to fit a certain salary structure on your team. Dan works hard and I think he's a team leader with work ethic on the ice. He does things right. He says good things and he plays hard."
 
CHANGING IT UP: Babcock is expected to stick with the same line combinations that he concocted during the last game against St. Louis, except for Patrick Eaves in for Drew Miller on the fourth line.
 
In a 7-3 home win against St. Louis, Babcock moved Tomas Holmstrom to the fourth line and put Johan Franzen on the first with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
 
"I'll have three groups and we'll see what happens," Babcock said of his power-play units. "Our power play, as much as we've talked about it, is Top 10 in the League. It scored us two power-play goals last game. It just never seems to get lots of goals for us. We'd like it to be more dangerous."
 
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent
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