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Published: Sunday, 5/11/2008

Franzen out at least 2 games


DETROIT - The Red Wings will have to find alternate means of transportation, at least for the time being, in their journey to the Stanley Cup finals.

"The Mule" has broken down.

Forward Johan Franzen, who has scored 10 goals during his current five-game goal streak, was absent last night for Game 2 against Dallas after experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

Franzen also has been ruled out by the medical staff for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals tomorrow as a precaution to undergo further testing and evaluation.

Franzen has been experiencing "recurring headaches since early in the conference semifinals against Colorado."

The loss is a huge blow for Detroit. Franzen's league-leading 12 playoff goals and current scoring streak are both franchise records.

The only other Red Wings to accomplish the same postseason run were Gordie Howe in 1949 and 1964 and Ted Lindsay in 1952.

MCCARTY RETURNS: Fifth on the Red Wings' list of all-time playoff appearances with 160 games, Darren McCarty had never become accustomed to riding the pine in the postseason until Thursday.

McCarty was a healthy scratch for the first time in his playoff career but was back on the ice last night in place of Franzen.

Winger Kirk Maltby had taken McCarty's spot in the rotation now that he has fully recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out in the first two rounds.

The move came as a disappointment to numerous Red Wings fans, who have renewed their love affair with McCarty this season after he was signed to a free-agent contract on Feb. 25 and called up in early March.

None of that nostalgia played into coach Mike Babcock's considerations, however.

"This is about our team, and we're about winning," Babcock said. "It doesn't mean Mac's not important. It doesn't mean he's not part of the team. It just means that we felt this was the best decision."

McCarty said Friday he was taking the benching in stride and would remain prepared in case an injury sprung up. Sure enough, McCarty is filling in for Franzen for at least two games.

FACEOFF DOMINANCE: Controlling the puck has been a key ingredient to Detroit's success so far in the playoffs, and it all starts in the faceoff circle.

The Red Wings won 71 percent of the draws last night, including 80 percent of faceoffs while short-handed.

"If you're strong with the puck, it's easier to win games," said Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, who won 64 percent of his faceoffs in Game 2.

"It's something we've been trying to work on lately, and right now it's going pretty good."

LEINO SIGNED: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland announced the signing of Ville Leino out of the Finnish Elite League to a one-year entry level contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A 6-foot, 182-pound forward, Leino led Jokerit with 28 goals and 49 assists in 55 games during the 2007-08 season.

Leino, 24, recently received the Oskanen Award, given annually to the league's best player in the regular season. He finished second in league scoring (77 points), second in plus-minus rating (plus-34) and third in goals scored (28).

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