The Detroit Red Wings are losers of three straight and eight of their last eleven, so imagine my excitement when hearing the news that the dangle-dangle man himself and the team's leading scorer, Pavel Datsyuk, is returning to the lineup tonight when the Wings take on the San Jose Sharks.
Unfortunately, the addition comes with the subtraction of Johan Franzen, who is a scratch due to back spasms:
"I had a hard time moving," Franzen said. "I've had a little stiff back, but nothing like this. When I started skating, it started to cramp up, or spasm up. I can't play like this."
The Red Wings are currently seven points behind the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division and lead the Nashville Predators by only a point for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Datsyuk's return will certainly help, but Franzen's injury takes a 26-goal scorer off the ice.
Here are tonight's lines and defensive pairings, with the top line starting on the ice:
The puck drops at 10:30 ET and the game will be aired on NBC Sports Network.