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The Detroit Red Wings face off tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks with a chance to clinch the series at home and advance to their second straight Stanley Cup Final where the Pittsburgh Penguins await. In tonight’s Game 5, the Wings will be without forward Kris Draper and possibly without captain Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Pavel Datsyuk.
Datsyuk skated briefly before practice yesterday and will play if he feels comfortable making the turns on the ice that he would need to make during a game and Lidstrom will be a game-day decision due to his lower-body injury.
A Look at the Supporting Cast
With two off days between Games 4 and 5, the media have had plenty of opportunities to write pieces on individual players and their particular role to the team.
In light of Lidstrom’s absence in Sunday’s game, rookie Jonathan Ericsson stepped up big. As Dave Dye of The Detroit News writes, Ericsson was inserted into the lineup when Andreas Lilja suffered a concussion. He then moved up to the top defensive pairing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom when Brian Rafalski got injured. In Game 5, Ericsson joined Rafalski as the top pair and helped the team to a 6-1 victory over Chicago. In fact, Ericsson has “the best plus-minus rating of any rookie in the playoffs (plus-8 in 15 games). He also has two goals and three assists while averaging 19:58 of ice time.”
Ericsson wasn’t the only player making a difference on the blue line. Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall also stepped up, making a noticeable impact in Game 4. NHL.com posted two stories, one on each of the physical defensemen, focusing on Kronwall’s big hits and Stuart’s impact on the lineup.
While forward Valtteri Filppula may not have the most confidence in his shot, he knows how to set up a play on the ice as we all saw in Game 4 when he finished with a goal and two assists in the victory. Larry Wigge at NHL.com talks about Filppula’s development and his postseason success on offense this year.
The Blackhawks obviously have a tough road ahead of them as they look to win three straight to advance. With that seemingly monster task ahead, Chicago is taking it game-by-game and it starts with staying out of the penalty box.
Chicago forward Patrick Kane says he needs to produce tonight after being shut out in the first four games of this series.
It looks like both teams could play tonight without a couple of their stars. For Chicago, it would mean missing netminder Nikolai Khabibulin and/or forward Martin Havlat.
In Other News
The Swedes and Finns on the Red Wings break down why there’s a rivalry between the two countries in a Detroit Free Press article by Helene St. James.
According to reports, former Wing Sergei Fedorov is expected to leave the NHL to play with his younger brother over in Russia in the KHL.
You can catch tonight’s game at 7:30 p.m. EDT on VERSUS in the U.S. and CBC or RDS in Canada. If you’ll be by a computer this evening, be sure to stop by WingsLive for some narrative play-by-play and comments from fans like you!