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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Red Wings prepare for no Homer, Cleary in his spot

UPDATE: Holmstrom (hamstring) spoke after the practice and said that he would try the morning skate tomorrow and that he would be a game-time decision. At today's practice, the Red Wings prepared for not having Holmstrom tomorrow, putting Dan Cleary on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. That's a statement because if the Wings were expecting Holmstrom to play, they would have subbed in someone like Mark Hartigan or Mattias Ritola. Instead, they prepared Cleary for the top line. Hartigan subbed in for Valtteri Filppula -- who will play in Game 4 -- on the second line.

Dan Cleary said this about his role with Datsyuk and Zetterberg: "Whatever line I'm on, I just try to go to the net, be good in the corner. With Pav and Z, you have to go to the net because (the puck) will be there and on your tape. Just be patient. Don't rush over these guys. These guys are so good with the puck, just stay away from them. A little bit of (puck) support and they'll get it to you. It took a little while to realize that, but it's so easy playing with them because they have the puck all the time. Any loose pucks, just get it right back to them and you'll be fine."

Coach Mike Babcock on Holmstrom: "The back of his leg, the hamstring, he's got a little problem there. We think he'll be fine. Tough guy. ... I'm not going to decide, he's going to decide. He's a tough guy and I expect him to play."

Trainer Piet Van Zant told Babcock this morning that Holmstrom is "way ahead" of where he thought he would be.


The Red Wings are on the warming up for their practice which is due to start soon. Tomas Holmstrom is not out there, which isn't a big surprise. After being hurt in the third period of Wednesday's Game 3, Holmstrom was limping after the game. His status for Saturday's Game 4 will be determined either after tomorrow's morning skate or the pregame skate.

UPDATE: The Red Wings are preparing for Game 4 as though Holmstrom will not be available, having Dan Cleary skate in Homer's spot alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

When a player is likely to return, the Wings will practice with a place-holder (like Mark Hartigan) and keep everyone in their same spots. Today, Hartigan is centering the second line with Filppula -- who has been banged up all post-season -- not taking the ice. Filppula will, however, be in the lineup tomorrow. Moving Cleary tips the Wings' hand that they're preparing for the game that way.

Here are the lines the Wings are working with today ...

Franzen-Hartigan (subbing for Filppula)-Samuelsson

The ripple effect created by Holmstrom's absence is this: Kirk Maltby moves up from the fourth line to the third to replace Cleary. Darren McCarty goes back in the lineup on the fourth line.

Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien on the possibility of Holmstrom not playing: "They still have a lot of quality players. And it's not going to change anything for us. It might change something for them, but for us, our focus will remain the same."


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