Update (11:52 AM): Just after I publish, I see Bruce MacLeod's latest:
... Hasek did not practice today, so he must be out tomorrow. Jimmy Howard already made the drive down I-96 and practiced with the team this morning.
... Darren McCarty's debut is still on.
... Tomas Holmstrom "took a quick twirl," but didn't stay any longer than that.
... Valtteri Filppula stayed out there the whole time, though MacLeod casts doubt on his status for tomorrow night by saying "[he] might be back in the lineup soon."
... Lastly, the line combos from practice:
Don't read too much into Drake's presence on the fourth unit. He practiced Monday as well, but didn't play Tuesday. There's still a chance he could sit out once again.
The defensive pairings haven't changed:
... The big news is that Darren McCarty will make his re-debut with the Wings tomorrow night against the Blues. It will be his first game in the Winged Wheel since May 3, 2004, and his first in the NHL in nearly a year. No word yet on who he'll be skating with, but don't expect a full-fledged reunion of the Grind Line. He probably won't be getting third line minutes.
A great game, and a great story, but one that a Red Wings fans should hope ends on April 6th when their top 12 forwards, including Holmstom and Flippula, are deemed healthy enough for the post-season. The lineup that has driven this team to the President’s Trophy and gives them the best shot at post-season success.
Miller goes on to cite McCarty's speed problem, his effective disappearance in Calgary, and the fact that he's returning from a rib injury, which he says is "not a the best injury to have for a grinder." Indeed.
I'm thrilled to see the success of Mac's comeback attempt, but I'm keeping my expectations low. I joked about his hat trick above, but I don't actually believe he can reproduce his AHL performance in the NHL. The question is whether or not he can fill a role on a team that is already very-well rounded. On one hand, I hope he can, but on the other, I'm with Miller. Mac is not going to be the one piece that puts the Wings over the edge because they already have all the pieces. If his addition does nothing more than give them the option of inserting him into the lineup, that's fine because it's really all they need.
... Helene St. James reports that Dominik Hasek (flu) is on antibiotics. If he can't practice today, the Wings will recall Jimmy Howard, who they sent back to Grand Rapids yesterday. Here's hoping the flu bug doesn't spread any further.
... Barring a setback in today's skate, Valtteri Filppula (knee, groin) is expected to return tomorrow night. Dallas Drake, on the other hand, is questionable with a bruised sternum.
With Fil and Mac in the lineup and Drake out, the lines should look something like this:
... The status of Tomas Holmstrom (abdomen/groin) for the remainder of the season is still unknown. The results of his tests should come out today.
... Ted Kulfan reports that Brad Stuart (broken finger) will start rehabilitation today or tomorrow. The goal is to have him back by Game 1 of the first round.
... The Wings will have an open practice on Saturday. The doors open at 11:00 AM and the skate starts at noon. If you bring new or used hockey equipment, you get in free. Otherwise, it's a $5 donation. The money and the equipment will go toward inner-city youth hockey programs.
... Ansar Khan has a nice piece on the possible Selke candidacies of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Arguments can be made for both players, who should finishe 1 and 2 in any case. However, I think Datsyuk's reputation as an offensive forward hurts him. It seems to me that his two-way ability is one of the best-kept secrets in Hockeytown. Zetterberg's two-way game is well-publicized and has been ever since he entered the League. Datsyuk, on the other hand, is only getting acclaim for his defensive play more recently.
Even I have a hard time imagining Pavel winning the Selke over Hank, but that may just be my homerism for #40 coming through.
... Lastly, I can't let this pass without comment. The idea that Aaron Downey is a coward or classless is ridiculous. The guy has been the epitome of class all season and, by all accounts, is universally respected in the Wings' locker room. He has been very smart to pick his fights wisely and so it's no surprise to me that he turned down King Tuesday night. There's no law, written or unwritten, that says he has to answer every challenge. Downey's job is to spark his teammates with big hits and the occassional fight, not to allow himself to be goaded into dropping the gloves.
I'm sorry Blues fans, but if you're looking for someone to call a coward or classless, look to your own team. Downey is a much better man than, say, Barret Jackman, who was, is, and always will be, a donkey.
If Downey decides to drop the gloves in defense of his character tomorrow night, I fully expect to see him acquit himself well. If he choses to keep his gloves on, I'll certainly think no less of him.