|Franzen back in Red Wings lineup|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 26 May 2008 19:02|
After scoring an NHL-best 12 goals in 11 playoff games, the Detroit Red Wings forward had been sidelined since May 8 because of recurring headaches. He was cleared to return to practice last Friday and had been waiting for doctors to give him the OK to play in a game.
On Monday morning, that clearance came - but not until moments after Red Wings coach Mike Babcock ruled him out of Monday night's Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Franzen logged 26 shifts and a total of 16 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time. He dished out three hits and absorbed his share, including Gary Roberts' driving arm to his face in the third period of the Red Wings' 3-0 victory.
``Went for my head? It's pretty big, so I think so,'' he said. ``It's hard to miss.''
Franzen, who has sat out six games, practiced with his teammates Monday for the morning skate and then was deemed healthy enough to return. He said Sunday that he had been symptom-free for 7-to-10 days.
Known as ``The Mule,'' Franzen scored 27 goals in 72 games during the regular season. He has scored 27 times in 28 games since March 2 - including 11 game-winners - and has netted a franchise-record 12 goals in the postseason.
He became the first NHL player to score 12 playoff goals since Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour in 2002, a total matched by teammate Henrik Zetterberg in Detroit's 4-0 win in Game 1 over Pittsburgh.
To make room in the lineup, the Red Wings scratched Darren McCarty.
MISSING MALKIN: Ever since Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards drilled Evgeni Malkin into the boards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins' high-flying Russian star hasn't been the same.
Malkin had an MVP-caliber season, especially excelling when Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was out for an extended time with a high ankle sprain. Malkin was just as good at the start of the playoffs. He notched eight goals and nine assists in his first 10 playoff games, including netting the winner in the opener against Philadelphia.
Since then, the 21-year-old center has only one goal and one assist in six games. Pittsburgh has gone 3-3 in those contests and has been shut out twice. He recorded no shots in the Penguins' 3-0 loss Monday night.
``I thought his intention was there tonight,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ``We've got to keep supporting him, and eventually, players like this, usually they find ways.''
Malkin said he is a bit tired, and uncomfortable with his role at the point on the power play. Therrien expressed confidence in Malkin, but also needs to see more from the forward, who recorded only one shot in Pittsburgh's 4-0 loss to Detroit in Game 1.
``He knows he needs to be better,'' Therrien said Monday. ``We addressed it with him. We want him to be a leader, and he's got to respond as a leader. When we lost Sid through the course of the season, I wanted him to be a leader, and he responded really well. We need him to be a leader for us every game.''
FLOPPING OZZIE: Clearly frustrated by a second straight shutout loss at the hands of the Red Wings and Chris Osgood, Penguins coach Michel Therrien took the time to criticize the officiating and what he called diving tendencies by the goalie.
Oh how the tables have been turned.
In the second round, the New York Rangers accused Sidney Crosby and the Penguins of embellishing and diving to draw penalties - often successfully. Now that Pittsburgh is down 2-0 to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals, the Penguins are doing their share of complaining.
``They are good on obstruction,'' Therrien said after the 3-0 loss. ``It's going to be tough to generate any type of offense if the rules remain the same.''
Then the coach set his sights on Osgood, who owns the Red Wings' record with 50 postseason victories.
``I'll tell you something. I reviewed those plays. He's a good actor. He goes to players and he's diving. He knows what to do, I guess,'' he said.
Osgood took the charges in stride and skillfully avoided getting into a war of words. He is 12-2 in the playoffs since replacing Dominik Hasek in the first round and has allowed 20 goals in 15 games.
``It doesn't concern me. I've been called worse,'' said Osgood, who is 6-0 career in the finals with a 1.18 goals-against average. ``I'm not really concerned about it. The minute the buzzer goes, it's out of my head. I don't think about the past.
``I'm more concerned about next game than about this game.''
Osgood has a shutout streak of 137 minutes and 33 seconds, dating to Game 6 against Dallas in the Western Conference finals. He is the fourth player to post shutouts in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals and the first since New Jersey's Martin Brodeur in 2003.
YOUNG GUNS: As has become an annual tradition, the NHL brought several of its top draft prospects to the Stanley Cup finals to tour the locker rooms and meet the current players competing for hockey's ultimate prize.
It was not that long ago that 19-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal was in that position. Just two years ago, Staal visited Edmonton when the Oilers took on the Carolina Hurricanes. What added intrigue to that moment was Jordan's older brother Eric was making his first appearance in the finals.
``It was special,'' Jordan said before Game 2. ``Obviously, it's a free trip to watch your brother but at the same time it was pretty neat to see my brother make it to the finals. It made me realize that maybe I could do it myself.''
Like Eric, who is two years older, Jordan was chosen with the second pick of the draft.
During his time with the Peterborough Petes, Staal got to know defenseman Zach Bogosian, who is currently ranked second among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
They were teammates for a short time, until Staal went to Pittsburgh for training camp in 2006, made the Penguins, and never went back to juniors. The two caught up for a bit in the Penguins dressing room on Monday.
``He was there his first year and we hung out,'' Staal said. ``It's pretty neat to see him here, and I'm happy for him. I was there not too long ago. It's something special and I hope it is for these guys, too. I know I enjoyed myself. It's great for them to be rewarded for what they've done so far.''
Also on hand Monday with their fathers were: center Steven Stamkos - the likely No. 1 pick in this year's draft - and defensemen Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo.
The first round of the draft will be held June 20 in Ottawa. The Tampa Bay Lightning own the No. 1 pick.