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Wings' line combinations shaking out

by Dan Rosen / Detroit Red Wings
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- It appears, at least judging from Monday's practice, that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has his forward lines all figured out, even though he told a member of the media that he was getting too far ahead of himself by asking about who would play on the fourth line.

"I haven't gotten that far ahead yet," Babcock said. "I think there are lots of people still battling. We'll see how it works out in the next couple of days."

Actually, the only battle is for the 12th forward spot, but since Justin Abdelkader stayed on the ice for extra work Monday and both Patrick Eaves and Kirk Maltby were off with the rest of their teammates, it's fair to think that Abdelkader will be the odd forward out, at least for Wednesday's game in Karlstad. The Wings brought 13 here with them.

Pavel Datsyuk was centering Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen. Henrik Zetterberg was between Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi. Valtteri Filppula had Ville Leino and Jason Williams on his flanks and Kris Draper was between Eaves and Maltby.

Datsyuk, Holmstrom and Franzen were on one power-play unit with Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on the points. Zetterberg, Cleary and Bertuzzi ran the other power play with Niklas Kronwall and Williams manning the points.

The defensive pairs should be Lidstrom and Rafalski, Kronwall and Brad Stuart, and Brett Lebda and Jonathan Ericsson. Derek Meech is also here as the seventh defenseman.

"He knows who plays well together," Cleary said of Babcock. "And, sure, we have lines now, but as the season goes on you never know. You could have an injury or some guys could be slumping, but he'll know right away how to adjust the lineup because he knows who plays well with who. He has a real good pulse on the lineup.

"As players, and I think I can speak for everybody, we love having that familiarity of knowing what the lines are going to be so we're comfortable and confident going to the rink and on the ice."

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