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Babcock: Expect to see Datsyuk, Lidstrom -- if they're healthy
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/26/2009 10:45 PM

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Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn't having any of it.

After telling the assembled media in Detroit that injured stars Pavel Datsyuk and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom didn't practice on Tuesday but were feeling better, Babcock interrupted a question insinuating since the Red Wings did so well against the Blackhawks on Sunday without their two stars, what were the chances the coach might sit them again.

"None," Babcock said. "If they're ready, they're playing."

That's certainly been Lidstrom's motto since he entered the league in the early 1990s. In fact, prior to missing Sunday's Game 4, the 39-year-old all-everything defenseman had played a club record 228 consecutive playoff games since 1992, ranking him sixth all-time in the NHL.

"I didn't realize that it was the first game he missed in the playoffs in his career," forward Kirk Maltby said of the Wings' captain. "That just speaks volumes.

"You're so used to seeing Nick out there and the nice calm he brings over the team. To not have him out there, I thought we did a great job of filling in the void."

It was former Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios who suited up in Lidstrom's stead Sunday afternoon, though the 47-year-old Chelios didn't come close to getting the ice time Lidstrom usually commands.

"You want to play under the right circumstances," Chelios said. "He's our best player and our leader.

"The best picture is we're winning and I stay out of the lineup because no one is hurt."

That would suit Babcock just fine.

"It's way easier to replace quality players in the short-term than it is in the long-term, because everyone can lift their level for a period of time," Babcock said. "But, you know, how are you going to play like Nick every night?

"I haven't seen anybody play like Nick every night ... except Nick."