Draper back as Wings wait on Datsyuk

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Kris Draper didn't like playing the waiting game, but refused to complain.

The Detroit Red Wings winger returned to the lineup from a groin injury for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.

While Draper was healthy enough to return in Game 2 last Sunday in Detroit, coach Mike Babcock didn't want to make any changes to his lineup.

That changed after the Wings lost on Tuesday.

Draper took Justin Abdelkader's spot in the lineup.

"All I've done is try to get myself as close to healthy as I can be," Draper said before the game. "I'm really just preparing myself if it I got the call. I'm looking forward to going back there with the guys.

"I've tried to be a positive influence. Did I want to pay? Absolutely, it burns. That's just me. I was doing everything I could to be a positive influence by trying to help guys. Anything I saw, I would try to help guys between periods. I have a chance to come in and I'm thrilled to be in there."

Babcock praised Draper's professionalism.

"He's a leader for us with his energy level and his commitment," said Babcock. "And, we need him here."

Not ready yet

Detroit C Pavel Datsyuk took a 90-minute skate yesterday and the warmup, but wasn't ready to suit up. "I feel much better," he said. In the morning, Babcock indicated that Datsyuk was ready to go, but admitted it wouldn't be his decision. "It won't be my decision. When Pav's ready to play, he's playing." Datsyuk has been out with a foot injury. It was the seventh straight game he's missed.


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