Sitting Doan right move for Coyotes

April, 20, 2010

DETROIT -- With an extra day off before Game 5 on Friday, it was wise in our mind for the Phoenix Coyotes to give captain Shane Doan the night off for Game 4.

"Hopefully, we'll get him back in Friday," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Tuesday after his team's pregame skate at Joe Louis Arena.

Tippett ruled Doan (undisclosed injury) out for Tuesday night's Game 4, and the Coyotes captain went to Joe Louis Arena for treatment Tuesday morning. He did not skate or speak to the media. Doan was injured after crashing into the end boards Sunday, and he skated briefly before Monday's practice.

Tippett said forward Vernon Fiddler would replace Doan in the lineup after missing Game 3 with an upper-body injury.

Meanwhile, Wings blueliner Brian Rafalski didn't take part in his team's optional morning skate Tuesday, but coach Mike Babcock said the veteran would play in Game 4. "That's the plan," Babcock said.

Lilja back

Andreas Lilja wasn't sure he'd ever play hockey again, so to be back in the NHL playoffs at the best time of the year has been a blast for him. The Red Wings defenseman, 34, missed a year hockey with a serious concussion he suffered when Nashville's Shea Weber knocked him out in a fight on Feb. 28, 2009. Lilja finally returned March 1 this season.

"I feel great; I have no problems," Lilja said after Tuesday's pregame skate. "It is a lot of fun. I think I was more nervous last year sitting and watching. But we have to turn this around and get it going here."

He certainly doesn't take playing for granted now.

"I think about it sometimes, and it makes me even more excited to play," Lilja said. "It's important not to forget."

The Swedish product makes his living playing a rugged game and hasn't held back just because of his concussion scare.

"If I can't play physical, I might as well not be out there," Lilja said.

Datsyuk nominated

Two-time reigning Selke Trophy winner Pavel Datsyuk was nominated again for the NHL's best defensive forward award with Ryan Kesler and Jordan Staal. (We're a little surprised Jonathan Toews wasn't nominated.)

The award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Datsyuk led the NHL with 132 takeaways this season, with Kesler a distant second at 83.

"Pavel leads the league, I think, every year in steals," Babcock said. "I think he's an exceptional two-way player, and him winning these trophies tell you that. But Pavel's an elite player, period, and one of the best players in the world.

"I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of really good players, and to me, he has those instincts and those skills that allow him to be very successful. But there's lots of good players in the league that are very determined that way, and guys understand more and more that if you don't go both ways, your chances of winning at playoff time is pretty limited."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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