May 8, 2011, 3:59 PM EDT
The Detroit Red Wings play Round 2 of what they hope will be four elimination games against the San Jose Sharks tonight, but they might need to do it without two key weapons. The team didn’t hold a morning skate today, so there are some doubts about whether Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen will play in Game 5.
Datsyuk is dealing with a wrist injury while Franzen has been hampered by ankle problems.
Actually, hampered is probably an understatement. Helene St. James probably put it the best when describing Franzen as “nearly immobilized” because of that sprained ankle. As much of a force as Franzen can be in the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sat out tonight’s game. (Except that he’s a hockey player, so that throws almost all of the rules out the window, anyway.)
I would be a little more surprised if Datsyuk misses Game 5, although the St. James reports that he did miss Saturday’s practice. Many people make the case that Datsyuk is the best hockey player in the world, mixing outrageous stickhandling skills with crafty takeaway abilities to form a frightening on-ice skill set. He leads the Red Wings with 10 playoff points, so no doubt about it, he would be missed.
The most interesting nugget is that head coach Mike Babcock reportedly told Drew Miller and Mike Modano to be ready to play tonight if one or both of Datsyuk and Franzen cannot make it. Before Game 4, we speculated that Modano might end his career as a healthy scratch. Perhaps that would be the silver lining: at least one more chance for the future Hall of Famer to finish his career on a high note.
Of course, there’s no telling if either Datsyuk or Franzen will miss tonight’s game. We’ll let you know if any official word surfaces regarding their status, but it’s likely that both will be tough game-time decisions.
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