Toews, Datsyuk missing from Hawks-Wings rivalry
CHICAGO -- Just like that, two of the biggest stars and top-line centers for Tuesday night's matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks are not playing.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is out with an undisclosed upper-body injury that’s being termed "day-to-day" and is different from the one that caused him to miss a game prior to the All Star-break plus the All-Star Game itself.
Over in the opponent's locker room, the Red Wings will play without star center Pavel Datsyuk -- who could be gone for 2-3 weeks after having his knee scoped on Tuesday morning in Detroit.
"Taser's out tonight, day-to-day," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Chicago's morning skate at the United Center. "Johnny's important in a lot of ways. He brings leadership and quality ice time for us and affects us in a lot of ways."
As for Datsyuk, the Wings were a little more specific about his injury and the timetable for when he's expected to return to action.
"Pav is going to be out a couple of weeks with minor arthroscopic surgery this morning," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said prior to Detroit's morning skate on Tuesday. "Everything is real good. He got a fragment in his knee, an old thing we wanted to clean up here prior to playoff time, so he'll be out a couple weeks. So, it's a good opportunity for someone else."
Brendan Morrison will start out centering Chicago's top line in place of Toews -- between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane -- while Henrik Zetterberg will bump up from the Red Wings' second line to the first and have Valtteri Filppula move from left wing of Detroit's second line to the middle.
Forward Danny Cleary, who's missed the last five games with knee soreness, will return to the lineup for Detroit -- but instead of right wing on the third line, he will man one of the wings on the second line, with Justin Abdelkader staying on the right side of Darren Helm on the third forward unit.
"It's always a big thing having depth and guys who can play different roles," said Abdelkader, who also has center experience along with top-line left wing Johan Franzen, who can take draws and used to be a center in the Swedish Elite League. "I think[Datsyuk] is the best overall player in the game, so it's tough losing him. It's going to be a big loss. Hopefully we can all come together and fill the void together. It's just part of hockey. You know there's going to be injuries."
Quenneville said it's imperative that Morrison not try to do too much to replace Toews.
"When you get in there, don't try to be Johnny," Quenneville said. "Just be yourself."