Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Red Wings lean on veterans

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

Story Tools

Detroit Red Wings defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom, left, and Brian Rafalski have each played in nine Game 7s over their careers. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Detroit Red Wings defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom, left, and Brian Rafalski have each played in nine Game 7s over their careers. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

There's still work to be done. That's the approach the Detroit Red Wings are taking into Thursday's seventh and deciding game of the Western Conference semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

After trailing the series 3-0, the Wings are seeking to be just the fourth team in Stanley Cup history to come all the way back from that deficit to win a series, but even though they've won three straight, the last thing they want to do is feel good about their accomplishment.

We've gave ourselves a great opportunity here, Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. To be at Game 7 after being down 0-3, it's pretty awesome, but we know the job's not done yet.

Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom did admit the chance to make Stanley Cup history was intriguing, but not a priority in their game preparation.

"You can't think about that," Lidstrom said. "Your approach has to be the same as it's been the last three games.

"It ranks right up there, being down 3-0 and being able to come back and play a Game 7, but we're not thinking like that. We're thinking, 'We have to go out there and win one more game.' Be ready to come out that first period and play hard. That's totally got to be our mindset. Not thinking too much about anything else."

Franzen a maybe

Detroit forward Johan Franzen, who missed Game 6 of the series due to a sprained left ankle, took part in Thursday's morning skate. He'll be a game-time decision, Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Franzen, who has struggled on his weak ankle this series, but has scored 33 goals in his last 59 Stanley Cup games.

Babcock declined to elaborate on possible lineup changes, but did indicate that Detroit centre Pavel Datsyuk and defenceman Brian Rafalski, who both passed on the morning skate, would play in Game 7.

Datsyuk took four draws during Game 6, indicating his injured right wrist was improving.

"We'll see," Datsyuk said of the possibility of taking more faceoffs in Game 7.

Veteran edge?

There's little the Red Wings haven't faced in Stanley Cup competition, including a Game 7 in the Cup final two years ago, but they aren't of the belief that this gives them some sort of psychological edge over the Sharks.

"I think veteran leadership is a great thing, but determination is a better thing," Babcock said. "We believe and understand what we need to do. This time of year, just do your part and then we have an opportunity for great things."

Regardless, Babcock does like that his team has experienced many of these pressure situations before. Lidstrom and Rafalski will both be playing in the ninth Game 7 of their NHL careers.

"Until you do it the first time, then you just think you can do it," Babcock said. "That's where experience comes in, and yet in saying that, you've got to do it again. It's new every time.

"You've got to find a way. Experience when you have none is overrated and when you have it, you think it's great."

Relax, go to it

Keeping their cool and their focus has worked well for the Wings during third-period rallies in Games 5 and 6 and it will be their stance as they take the ice for Game 7.

"That's what we've talked about," Babcock said. "Just stay calm, stay poised and do what you're supposed to do. If you do that, anything can happen.

"If you get all wound into the ground and you stop making plays, nothing good happens for yourself. I think if you feel like you're playing good, it's a way different thing."

Justin's case

The Wings' brass has held many discussions with Abdelkader about his penchant for taking bad penalties in this series.

Three games in a row he's taken a penalty in the third that put his team shorthanded, and five times in the series.

In overtime of Game 1, Abdelkader took double minor for high sticking Niclas Wallin. The Sharks scored 20 seconds after the infraction expired. In Game 2, Logan Couture scored a first-period power-play goal while Abdelkader was off for high-sticking.

In Game 4, the Wings were forced to kill off an Abdelkader cross-checking foul while the game  was tied 3-3 in the third period. He took an elbowing penalty late in Game 5 with the Wings leading 4-3, and was assessed a holding penalty in the third period of Game 6 with Detroit ahead 2-1, which the Wings also successfully killed.

"I've got to be smarter," Abdelkader said.