Lebda, Guerin sitting out next games
News and notes from the road:
• Detroit coach Mike Babcock said defenseman Brett Lebda is improving but there remains no timetable for his return to action. He was sucker-punched by Calgary forward Daymond Langkow in Game 5 of the first round and has not played since.
• You have to love Babcock's candor when discussing the playoffs. He said everyone loves to talk about adjustments coaches make during games. And they are trying to make them, he said. But when a puck hits a goal post and stays out or a puck hits a goal post and goes in, "is that an adjustment?"
"That's how fine a line it is in this series," Babcock said.
• One of the myths of this series is the Sharks' much-ballyhooed depth. Look at the Sharks' production and it's clear you spell 'depth' in San Jose J-O-E T-H-O-R-N-T-O-N. Thornton, who's averaging 22:27 a night in ice time and linemates Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek, have combined for four goals and five assists in this series. The Sharks have scored just eight times in four games. On the other hand, captain Patrick Marleau and linemate Bill Guerin are pointless in this series. It's not about depth, Babcock said. "But did the best guys get out there and did they perform."
• Speaking of Guerin, the rugged winger acquired from St. Louis at a steep price at the trade deadline (for veteran Ville Nieminen, a prospect and a first-round draft pick) will not play in Game 5 because of a facial injury as a result of a deflected shot in Game 4. Guerin did not travel to Detroit for Game 5 and head coach Ron Wilson said he's unsure when Guerin might return. Those prone to cruelty would suggest it will be difficult to tell whether Guerin's playing or not given that he has contributed two lonely assists in the Sharks' first nine postseason games. Ouch.
With Guerin out it appears Steve Bernier, who has just one assist in nine postseason games, will play alongside struggling captain Marleau.
"That's what it comes down to. Hopefully Bernie can get on top of things and help Patty get going here," Wilson said.
• Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom returned to action in Game 4 after suffering an eye injury against Calgary that kept him out of the first three games of the Sharks series. His presence was immediately felt as he scored a goal with five seconds left in the second period to cut the Sharks' two-goal lead in half. Although he's often razzed by his teammates for his tortured English, the Swedish-born Holmstrom remains possessed of a quick wit.
Asked how his eye was healing, he looked around at a group of reporters and said: "Where are you?"
• Dominik Hasek said he felt for New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur, who was clipped by Mike Fisher on the winning goal in the Senators Game 3 victory over New Jersey. No penalty was called even though replays showed Brodeur clearly knocked off balance by the Ottawa forward. A shot by defenseman Tom Preissing eluded Brodeur seconds after.
"The referee he should call it. I don't know why he didn't. It's a mistake and it cost them the game," Hasek said Friday. "Sometimes you can be tripped and nothing happens. Unfortunately, in this case, he was tripped and they scored a goal and it cost them the game." Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.
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