DETROIT - They say mules are often a little stubborn in the head. Well, the Red Wings Mule is still a little nicked in the head.
Forward Johan Franzen sat out his fourth straight game yesterday with concussion-like symptoms in Detroit's 2-1 loss to the Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
Franzen has been experiencing headaches since early in the Western Conference semifinals against Colorado, and team officials reiterated yesterday that he is still "day-to-day."
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told reporters Friday that doctors have cleared Franzen to begin light workouts. But Holland also said Franzen likely will need a few days to get back into game shape and show no lingering effects of a concussion before being allowed back on the ice.
"I think the hardest thing for the Mule situation is it's day-to-day all the time," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "[It] doesn't sound like it was day-to-day, sounds like it was week-to-week. That's what we're dealing with."
Franzen had scored a franchise-record 12 playoff goals and was in the midst of a five-game goal streak before being sidelined.
His teammates have been text-messaging him to keep his spirits up and are biding their time until The Mule returns.
"It's got to be frustrating for him, I'm sure," Babcock said. "[It] drives you crazy. You feel pretty good and yet you're not allowed to do [anything].
"It's part of playoff hockey, though. Things like this happen. You know, the bottom line is you just got to overcome it."
DELAY OF GAME: The start of yesterday's game was delayed a few minutes to clear "octopi matter" off the ice.
The Red Wings ice-shoveling crew was called out to scrape off remnants of four octopi that were tossed from the crowd during the national anthem.
The delay didn't seem to bother either team, and Babcock was even shown on the CBC telecast smirking on the Red Wings' bench during the clean-up.
LAYING THE WOOD: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kron-
wall once again served notice to the Stars that if you're going to skate through center ice, you better keep your head up.
As has become custom in this series, Kronwall bowled over another Dallas forward, in this case Antti Miettinen as he carried the puck through the neutral zone late in the first period.
"Dallas [Drake] also had three big hits, and that got us back in the game," Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler said. "We have to keep doing those things."
FIRST HOME LOSS: The Red Wings lost for the first time at home in the playoffs in Game 5, and Babcock pointed to one key reason for the defeat - misfired shots.
"I just know we had lots of shots on net and missed the net 19 more times," Babcock said. "We had three quality scoring chances with [Tomas] Holmstrom, [Daniel] Cleary, and [Brian] Rafalski where we didn't even hit the net."
PETERSEN STEPS UP: Dallas fourth-line center Toby Petersen saw 22:33 of ice time in Game 5, more than any other center on the Stars' roster.
Petersen finished plus-1 in the contest with one shot on goal and one credited hit.
"He's playing very valuable minutes, playing against top players, and he's getting the job done for us," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "He probably typifies when you talk about players that play the game fast or play with pace. He's one of those guys that is right there."32.81195 -96.76077