"While Ozzie's hot, we'd be crazy not to play him," said coach Mike Babcock. "We thought we were going to play Ozzie more this year. It just happened that when Ozzie got playing good, we're going to ride the hot hand. There's no question in our minds what Dom can do. This is kind of like a Roger Clemens contract. He's starting in the second half."
-- Kris Draper's knee sprain will keep him out of the lineup for 10 days to two weeks. Today, he could just ice the knee and sit in the sauna.
"It was harmless," said Draper of the play on which he was injured. "That's the frustrating thing. … I don't know if I just kind of fell on it awkward and there was a twist, something like that. I've been hit a lot worse and been in a lot more vulnerable positions and didn't have anything happen."
Babcock points out the line match-up advantage that the Red Wings have with Draper in the lineup that will be lost against a team like Tampa Bay, Thursday, that has Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis on one line and Brad Richards on another.
"It's not just the penalty-kill," said Babcock. "It's our team. He's a real good faceoff guy. When I play Z and Pav head-to-head with the other guy's top unit, if I don't have them available I've always got Draper. I always have two (lines). Suddenly, you have to do it differently."
-- Kirk Maltby (shoulder) didn't practice. His status is unknown for Thursday. Since the beginning of the 2001-02 season, Maltby has missed just three regular-season games. He has played in 430 of a possible 433 games during the five-plus season span. Maltby has appeared in 187 consecutive games.
"He's had a bit of soreness in his upper body," said Babcock. "I think he'll be fine. Malts hasn't missed one practice since I've been here. If he missed a practice, that's a bit concerning. (Athletic trainer) Piet (Van Zant) doesn't think it's a big deal."
-- Tomas Kopecky (shoulder) has been cleared to play Thursday.
-- If Maltby is unavailable, the Red Wings' current roster has 11 healthy forwards. Babcock said that in that case, the team will either call up a forward or skate with seven defensemen Thursday. Derek Meech practiced up front Wednesday.
-- Matt Ellis (headache) might be available for Tuesday's game in Montreal, according to Babcock. Ellis skated for the first time in nearly a week, taking the ice on his own before practice.
-- Dallas Drake will debut a half-visor Thursday and is thrilled about not having to wear a full shield.