Red Wings Need Zetterberg to Push Back in Game 6

It’s time for Game 6, and there are a couple lineup changes for tonight.  ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that Detroit’s Johan Franzen indeed cannot go tonight, and his replacement will be Mike Modano.  On the other side, Ryane Clowe will not suit up for the Sharks.

Hard to say how this will affect the result tonight, but Clowe has led San Jose in playoff points so far, while Franzen has been rendered immobile in recent games.  Additionally, I have to think it’s a better move for the Wings to go with Modano tonight instead of Jiri Hudler, who hasn’t been playing very professional hockey lately, especially with respect to defensive responsibilities (see Dan Boyle’s goal in Game 4).

This could be the last game of Modano’s career, as well as captain Nick Lidstrom.  The future hall-of-fame defenseman is a Norris Trophy finalist this year, so it’s certainly not as if he is losing his game, but the overall feeling is that the time is right for Lidstrom to walk away and move his family back to Sweden, which is something that has been mulled over for a decade.  Like all Red Wings fans, I’m grateful that Lidstrom has put his homecoming off this long, and I hope that the team can give him one more great Joe Louis Arena moment.

In order to do that, I feel that it is time for Henrik Zetterberg to take over a hockey game.  He has done it in the recent past against such opponents as Sidney Crosby, but Hank had a really tough time when he was matched on the ice with Sharks’ captain Joe Thornton in Game 5.  Zetterberg may not be close to full strength even now, having missed the first round due to injury, but this is a man who leads all NHL players in playoff goals since the lockout.  But it was Lidstrom who took over Game 4, and Pavel Datsyuk who played one of the legendary elimination games in Red Wings history in Game 5.  Those two cannot be expected to win every game by themselves (as far as skaters go, of course), and with Franzen out, Zetterberg becomes the most obvious candidate to take over a game in which the Red Wings need to score goals, play responsible defense, stay out of the box, and do much better on puck possession and shots on goal totals.  Zetterberg is typically exceptional in all of those areas, and someone will need to score goals, since Datsyuk has already said that his wrist does not allow him to shoot the puck.  Although Zetterberg has ten years left on his contract, there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be in this situation again.  The Red Wings are one of five teams left competing for the Stanley Cup, and are playing a game at home.  This is a must win for more reasons than just trying to win this year’s title.  Lidstrom is likely gone after this season, and fellow defenseman Brian Rafalski won’t be far behind.  The Red Wings do not have much in the world of defensive prospects, so it stands to say that despite the 0-3 hole Detroit found itself in a few days ago, this really might be their last legitimate shot for a while.

The scene should be good, and the game is live from Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET on Versus in the U.S.


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