Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Franzen and Datsyuk game time decisions

Categories: Detroit Red Wings, SJS vs. DET, San Jose Sharks

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Detroit's Johan Franzen, right, may not be able to joing his Red Wings teammates for Game 5 of their series with San Jose on Sunday night. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press) Detroit's Johan Franzen, right, may not be able to joing his Red Wings teammates for Game 5 of their series with San Jose on Sunday night. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

It's possible that two key elements of the Detroit Red Wings' attack could be absent as their Western Conference semifinal series with the San Jose Sharks returns to the ice Sunday for Game 5 at HP Pavilion.

Though Wings coach Mike Babcock insisted he'd go with the same lineup that won Game 4, there is speculation that both winger Johan Franzen (ankle) and centre Pavel Datsyuk (wrist) could be game-time decisions.

Babcock did acknowledge that forwards Mike Modano and Drew Miller would both be "on standby" if something changes.

"He's a real good player and so is Mike Modano," Babcock said. "So I'm not going to hesitate to . . . both of them are on standby and both will be game-time decisions."

Upping The Antti

The Wings were a confident bunch, even though they trail the best-of-seven set 3-1.

Buoying their confidence was the feeling that they've been getting steadily better and are starting to win the puck battles in the San Jose zone, creating more second-chance scoring opportunities.

"I think we're getting more down low time, we're on the puck a little more," Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "We're a puck-possession team and we've had periods where we've done a little more chasing than we want to."

The Wings feel they are making life more difficult for Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, getting traffic in his face and leading to rebound chances.

"We've been getting more shots and we've been getting there for rebounds, too," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We've been trying to shoot the puck more, get more second chances on him. We weren't able to do it as much the first couple of games."

Lidstrom admitted that's not an easy task against the big, physical San Jose defence.

"It's about finding openings and getting the puck at the net," he said. "Sometimes, they're doing a good job of blocking us out and blocking shots and pushing us to the outside. That's why you got to find a way to get it through.''

Five On Five Alive

Another boost to Detroit's psyche from Game 4 was the fact they were able to score three goals while playing five-on-five hockey. During the first three games of the series, only two of Detroit's five goals came when not on the power play.

"We didn't score a lot of even-strength goals in the series prior to last game," Detroit forward Dan Cleary said. "Special teams has been the difference.

"It's not very often you have both teams getting two or three power play goals a game, it's mostly chippy, five-on-five play. We were able to get some the last game."

Better Effort

As much as they were pleased to finally win a game in the series, the Wings weren't all that thrilled by the way they allowed the Sharks to rally from a 3-0 deficit and tie the score before Darren Helm's third-period game winner led to a 4-3 Detroit victory.

"We got the three goals, then they battled back," Lidstrom said. "I thought we made some mistakes that they capitalized on. We can't do that against a good team.

"We have to tighten up defensively. They scored a couple of goals where we lost our man in the slot or right in front of the net."

Newfoundland Bonanza

Cleary, of Carbonear and San Jose's Ryane Clowe, of Fermeuse, are two of four Newfoundland-born NHLers still left in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, though one will be eliminated in this series.

Meanhwile, two natives of St. John's, Boston Bruins forward Michael Ryder and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Teddy Purcell, prepare to face off in the Eastern Conference final.

To date, Cleary, who won with Detroit in 2007-08, is the only Newfoundland-born NHLer with an inscription on Lord Stanley's mug, and while he'd like that not to change, Cleary acknowledged the propensity of Newfoundlanders in the hunt is making the Stanley Cup even bigger news back home.

"We'll see how it goes," Cleary said of the chances of a second player from his province lifting the Stanley Cup. "Right now, it's looking good."