Even though the Red Wings won Game 6 in overtime, coach Mike Babcock decided to make a lineup change.
Babcock told reporters in Anaheim that Patrick Eaves was returning and Cory Emmerton would be a healthy scratch.
“I just thought we didn’t turn enough skin in the offensive zone,” Babcock said. “I didn’t think we were physical enough. Last time Patty played, I think he had seven finished checks or six finished checks. I trust him with the puck.”
Of course that means that the fourth line will have Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, none of whom is a natural center.
“We’re three good hockey players,” Eaves said. “I don’t think it really matters if we’re wingers. At some point we’ve all played center in our career and we can all help each other out. I think it’s just about communication. We’ll be fine with it.”
Although none of them is used to taking faceoffs, Eaves doesn’t think it will be a problem.
“Every faceoff is huge,” Eaves said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the circle, the wingers and D know they have to come in a little bit and help out, too. It doesn’t matter, it’s a big scrum in the end. Sammy will do a great job. Bert and I will look to help out. If he gets kicked out, one of us will go in there. I’m not looking at it as an issue at all.” Youngsters ready for challenge of Game 7
The kids have done all right. And now they have to be even better than all right as the Wings play Game 7 on the road.
“I think our young players have been good,” Babcock said. “I think it’s a good opportunity. You’ve got to be excited to play in this. You grow up dreaming about it; scoring the game-winning goal in overtime. You’ve done it a million times. Play the game.”
Every player knows that Game 7 is not like every other game, even if you have to prepare for it as if it were.
“Last game was the same, too,” Gustav Nyquist said. “If we had lost we would have been out. It’s the same going into this game. We came out hard last game and played a good game. That’s what we’re going to have to do tonight.”
Captain Henrik Zetterberg told reporters in Anaheim that he couldn’t remember his first Game 7, but he remembered what the veterans back then said.
“Just go out and play,” Zetterberg said. “Guys have been here before. We’ve been in elimination games. Game 7 is maybe a little different but in reality it’s kind of like Game 6. So we’ve been through that and you just have to go out there and play and do it well.”
DeKeyser on the mend after surgery
The Wings wish rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser were going to be on the ice with them in Game 7.
But DeKeyser, who suffered a broken right thumb after colliding with Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri in the third period of Game 2, underwent surgery to repair the injury this past week.
“The surgery went well,” said DeKeyser, who accompanied the team to Anaheim. “A plate and some screws that they put in there. Seal up the bone, try to make them come together as best they could.”
DeKeyser said he expects to be ready in time for development camp in Traverse City in July.
He has to wait a little bit before he can begin rehabilitation activities.
“Anything off-ice will be probably two weeks, got a week and a half left in that,” DeKeyser said. “Just try to stay in shape and hope the bone heals up as quick as it can.”
Wings fans are excited to see how good DeKeyser can be after he goes through development camp, a full training camp and a complete 82-game schedule.
“Getting in 10-plus games will help me be more confident for next year,” DeKeyser said. “Taste of playoffs will be good down the road. Just two games but it will be good experience, coming into next year I’ll know what to expect, with the crowd and the higher level of play.”