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Babcock praises Wings for overcoming injuries
"When you close out a team it's not easy," Cleary said yesterday. "You're taking away someone's dreams, what they live for, and it's not an easy thing to do.
Datsyuk's return for Game 5, in which he had two assists and was plus 2, seemed to make the Red Wings complete to restore the thorough, two way game they have used to win four Stanley Cups and remain a contender season after season for the last dozen years.
Perhaps worst of all was losing two way forward and Hart Trophy candidate Pavel Datsyuk for the final three games against Chicago and the first four games of the final with a foot injury.
It could come exactly as it did a year ago, in Game 6 of the final at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, although Wings' forward Dan Cleary warned it is no lock despite Detroit's total domination of Game 5 a 5 0 victory at Joe Louis Arena Saturday night.
For the Red Wings to be in that position is remarkable, given the injuries to key players they have endured since their playoff run began April 16. They have been without defenceman Andreas Lilja with a concussion for the entire post season. And along the way they went without defenceman Brian Rafalski for five games with an upper body injury in the second round against Anaheim, centre Kris Draper for 15 games in two stretches, defenceman Jonathan Ericsson for Game 7 of the Western Buy Men Canada Goose Pbi Expedition Blue Online Conference final after an appendectomy, and captain Nik LIdstrom for the final two games against the Blackhawks with a suspected groin injury.