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Franzen lost for four months with torn ACL

Friday, 10.9.2009 / 3:40 PM ET / News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer
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Franzen lost for four months with torn ACL
Johan Franzen is done for at least four months, a torn ACL in his left knee is to blame. The ramifications this has on the Red Wings lineup are huge and could potentially tilt the balance of power in the Central Division.

Franzen, who scored the game-winning goal in Thursday's 3-2 win over Chicago, has been playing left wing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

"It happened last night, I don't know exactly when," General Manager Ken Holland told the Detroit News. "It happened before he scored the goal (second period) and he played the rest of the game with it."

Holland said the Wings have recalled forward Justin Abdelkader.

Franzen's absence creates a huge hole for coach Mike Babcock to fill. How will he do it?

"You don't lose a power forward who scores 35 goals and breaks Gordie Howe's playoff scoring record and think you're going to magically find another one and plop him in there," Holland said. "It's going to put pressure on 18 other guys. Everyone's got to be 10-percent better. At the same time it opens up an opportunity for somebody else to step up."

Babcock has a few options if the Wings want to stay in house and not sign one of the remaining free agents such as Miroslav Satan.

Since Franzen is going on IR, it does create some salary cap space to make such a move or find a trading partner, but we're not tapping Holland's phone.

Instead, let's take a look at what the Wings have in house to solve this dilemma.

First off, let's remember that center Darren Helm is due back soon from his shoulder injury and when he returns he will be slotted in and should reprise his role on the penalty kill as well.

With Helm in the lineup, Babcock has more flexibility. He could push Valtteri Filppula over to the wing to play with Datsyuk and Holmstrom, giving the Wings a similar look -- albeit not as talented -- as they have when they use Datsyuk and Zetterberg together.

Filppula is a playmaking pivot, but so are Zetterberg and Datsyuk and they obviously work well together. Helm would take over as the third-line center between Ville Leino and Jason Williams.

Helm could also play on the wing with Datsyuk and Holmstrom.

Helm, though, may not be back for Saturday's game against Washington, which means we might see the Wings' debut of Patrick Eaves or Justin Abdelkader, who has been recalled from Grand Rapids. He was sent down earlier this week to make room for enforcer Brad May, but could play center on the third or fourth line.

Ville Leino could be a guy Babcock moves into Franzen's spot with Datsyuk and Holmstrom. He's got a nose for the net and a big body that he likes to throw around just like Franzen. Eaves could replace Leino on the third line with Filppula and Williams.

Filppula, though, could still be moved up to play with Datsyuk and Holmstrom, but that would likely mean Abdelkader would have to jump into the mix because the Wings would need another center.

Babcock, though, could also go back to the well and create a lethal top line with Datsyuk, Zetterberg and either Dan Cleary or Tomas Holmstrom. If he does that, Todd Bertuzzi and the remaining winger, Cleary or Holmstrom, would have to be centered by Filppula.

Kris Draper could move up to play between Leino and Williams, leaving Abdelkader to play with May and Kirk Maltby.

Bottom line, with Franzen out the Wings desperately need Helm back and the onus falls on guys like him, Williams, Leino, Filppula, Bertuzzi and Cleary to score some goals.

"We can feel sorry for ourselves, but nobody else is," Holland told the News. "We're going to have to dig deep, keep grinding and keep competing."




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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80