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Draper returns to lineup for Game 4

Wings' forward looks to help on penalty kill, face-offs

Thursday, 06.4.2009 / 2:09 PM ET / News
By Christy Hammond  - Community Relations Manager
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Draper returns to lineup for Game 4
PITTSBURGH – Veteran forward Kris Draper returns to the lineup for Game 4 tonight at Mellon Arena after missing five games due to injury. The center will replace Justin Abdelkader on the fourth line where he’ll center Ville Leino and Kirk Maltby.

Draper focused on conditioning and maintaining a positive attitude while he sat out.

“I did as much conditioning on and off the ice as I could to prepare myself and there’s nothing like going out and doing it in the game, especially in this kind of atmosphere,” Draper said. “The intensity and emotion and everything means so much tonight. So I’ve prepared myself and I’m looking forward to going back out there with the guys.”

His presence on the ice tonight should boost the team’s face-off percentage and penalty kill success rate. He led the team in face-off winning percentage during the regular season and is known for winning key face-offs when the game is on the line.

“He’s the best guy in the face-off circle,” said Darren Helm of Draper. “Just having him on the face-offs alone is going to be huge. He can win a lot of big draws for us in the D-zone when we need him.”

It’s been no secret that Detroit has struggled on the penalty kill this year, allowing three goals on six opportunities this series alone. Draper hopes to use his skillset to bump up the penalty kill success rate for the remaining games in the Stanley Cup finals.

“That’s been a big part of my career and part of my role with this hockey club,” Draper said. “When you get some face-off situations for sure on the PK so for me, I put a lot of importance and pressure on myself to go out and win as many draws as I can and make them come 200 feet right off the hop so if that’s the call I’m going to get, I’m going to go out and do that to the best of my abilities tonight.”

Opponents are well aware of Draper’s success on the penalty kill and in the face-off circle.

“He’s been relied upon to take a lot of face-offs so he takes it serious and works on it a lot,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. “He’s a role guy for them. He wins a lot of big face-offs and has got some speed and plays on the penalty kill.”

Draper’s focus on perfecting his face-offs and willingness to help the younger players has impressed Wings coach Mike Babcock.

“I think it's focus, I think it's mental toughness and professionalism.  Taking a lot of pride in doing it,” Babcock said of Draper’s prowess in the face-off circle. “When you talk about leadership, Draper's been working with Helmer and Abby every day since they've been here.  That's a big part of what we do here is passing it on.”

Even when he was unable to play, Draper used his experience to advise young players like Abdelkader and Darren Helm during practice and even games.

“If they needed anything clarified, any questions that they had that if I could help them a little bit,” Draper said. “We take a lot of draws together and have fun with it. Those are the things that I wanted to do – everything I wanted to do in this locker room was just bottom line trying to be a positive influence around all of the guys.”

Helm has been soaking up Draper’s pointers and has really benefited from the advice.

“I just try to listen to him and it seems to be working so far,” Helm said. “I’ll take any advice he’s got.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89