A lot of writers are leading to the notion that a Detroit/Pittsburgh rematch in the Finals is more or less a guarantee. Considering Detroit's 3-1 series lead - and how close it really was to being a sweep - it would appear doing so is a safe bet.
Tonight may be your last chance to see the Detroit Red Wings in action before they take on Pitt for the Cup. It's a chance to eye up the enemy. A chance to get a look at how they are handling the ice without the likes of Kris Draper (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (foot) or Nik Lidstrom (lower-body injury). They may be injured but they're still getting by.
On NHL Live yesterday afternoon, NHL.com writer Brian Compton suggested Draper may be done for the playoffs. It wasn't a statement of fact, but instead a speculation based on following the team throughout the run both on and off the ice. Given Draper's history of injuries it isn't hard to imagine.
Compton addressed injuries again today with regards to both Lidstrom and Datsyuk:
According to Detroit coach Mike Babcock, progress has been made, but not enough to get either player into the lineup as the Wings gun for a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Datsyuk is allegedly sporting a boot on his injured foot, an indication that whatever injury he sustained is more than just a tweak or bruise. If I had to guess I'd say Datsyuk will play in the Finals regardless but there's a chance he won't be at the top of his game.
The NHL has already suggested that the Finals schedule will commence this weekend if Detroit wins tonight. It's hard to say if these injuries to Detroit will still be a factor in the next round. Right now you have to imagine they are set on closing out Chicago and moving onto the games that hold a higher reward. Drawing out this series with an injured club will only prolong the pain and make the next round all the more difficult.
The puck drops tonight at 7:30 on Versus. Be sure to check out the SBN blogs for the series as well: Winging it in Motown (Wings) and Second City Hockey (Blackhawks).