Advice for Franzen: “Get on the inside.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock made one simple statement when asked about Franzen’s struggles,” Get on the inside.”

In his last 21 games, playoffs and regular season, he has one goal, seven assists and a minus-5 rating. In the previous 23 games, he had 13 goals, 16 assists and a plus-14.

Franzen is third on the team in shots on goal through three games with eight.

“Even if I’m not scoring that’s not what I’m doing for this team,” Franzen said on the eve of the first round series with Boston. “It’s not why I go out and play games to score goals. I’ve got a lot of things to do before that. It’s not even fifth on the list, probably, when you go out to a game.”

In his last 30 playoff games since the start of 2011, he has seven goals (one game winner), four assists and a minus-8.

In his previous 51 playoff games from 2008-2010, he had 31 goals (nine game winners), 28 assists and a plus-29.

Paternity leave

DETROIT >> Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall missed practice due to the arrival or soon-to-be arrival of newborns.

“I would assume that they’re both playing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re not giving birth. Their wives are.”

Datsyuk just had a daughter, while Kronwall’s girlfriend is expecting.

Daniel Alfredsson also missed practice.

With those missing Babcock’s top line consisted of Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi. The second line consisted of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, while Darren Helm centered Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist on the third line. The fourth line had Luke Glendening centering David Legwand and Drew Miller, with Joakim Andersson rotating in.

Xavier Ouellet was recalled from Grand Rapids and was paired with Brendan Smith.

Jabs at Bruins

DETROIT >> “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon did his “Superlatives” skit on Tuesday and three Bruins were featured on it – Brad Marchand (“Mostly Likely To Play A Pizza Delivery Guy In An 80s Movie About Skiing), Zdeno Chara (“Most Likely To Be Two Humans Sewn Together”) and Dougie Hamilton (“Easiest To Replicate As A Bobblehead”).

Smith on Marchand: “He’s an antagonizer, he’s kind of like a pest type of guy.”

DETROIT >> You can add Brendan Smith to the list of players that aren’t a big fan of Boston forward Brad Marchand.

The Bruins agitator drew a tripping penalty on Smith in the second period of Tuesday’s Game 3 of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven first round series.
Marchand thrived in pain on the ice gripping his right knee despite getting checked in the left leg by Smith.

“It was funny when he was putting all his weight on the leg that got hit (leaving the ice),” Smith said Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s interesting when I saw the picture.

“That’s Marchand, he’s going to try to create some stuff, that’s the kind of player he is and he’s kind of lived off that for a long time, that’s why he’s great. It’s kind of funny when you get caught like that and you go down on your left leg and you got your right leg up. That’s how he is. That’s how he plays. It’s worked for him.”

Marchand has been trying to get under Smith’s skin the entire series, but he insists his ploys to do so aren’t working.

“For me I just keep playing,” Smith said. “I’m hoping the refs will start seeing a little more but it’s playoff hockey, that’s what goes on.

“That’s what he does, he’s an antagonizer, he’s kind of like a pest type of guy but he’s one of the best in the league at that,” Smith added. “It’s good that the refs can understand that.”

Boston’s ploy throughout the series seems to be try and get under the skin of any Wing in sight.

“It’s so emotional and the tensions (are) really high and guys are laying everything on the line,” Marchand said. “Things get chippy and guys are playing aggressively and it just comes out in playoffs a little more when you know what’s on the line and what you’re expected to do.”

In Game 1, Milan Lucic speared Danny DeKeyser between the legs. In Game 2, Zdeno Chara squared off with Smith and smiled the entire time as the Wings defensemen tried to engage with him at the end of the first period.

“I don’t like some of the cheap shots here and there,” Smith said. “In that sense I don’t like how (Marchand) plays that way.”

With Kronwall, Datsyuk and Alfredsson missing from practice, Babcock juggles up lines

DETROIT >> With Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson missing from practice, Wings coach Mike Babcock had a different look to his lines.

“I didn’t ask anybody today on purpose,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked if he inquired about the status for those three for Game 4 Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena. “I figure by not asking anybody it buys me until tomorrow to decide what I want to do first and then I would assume that they’re both playing (Datsyuk and Kronwall. They’re not giving birth. Their wives are. One has and one is.”

Datsyuk just had a daughter, while Kronwall’s girlfriend is expecting to give birth soon.

The top line consisted of Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi.

Zetterberg, who’s still recovering from undergoing successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc which was rubbing against a nerve, said he was able to skate lines because of Datsyuk’s absence.

“I’ve been thinking about (Zetterberg’s return) for eight weeks,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter what I think about it though. We have doctors here that decide that so they’ll let us know, if he’s available, he’ll be going.”

Asked if there was a shot he’d play Babcock added, “We haven’t talked about this at all. I put him in there because I thought his number looked real good where Pavel was supposed to be.”

Bertuzzi has been a healthy scratch the first three games of the series.

“I’ve skated with him for about four or five days now,” Bertuzzi said of Zetterberg. “He looks good, he looks strong. Only he can tell whether it’s ready or not. The back is a pretty crucial part of your body and I know he’s put a lot of time and work in and months to be back, so obviously if he’s available he would be a huge part of our team coming back.

“It’s him and Pav take two lines away,” Bertuzzi continued. “It’s up to the third and fourth (lines) to contribute. Usually those guys go status quo or get a goal or two and it’s up to three and four to take care of business.”

The second line consisted of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, while Darren Helm centered Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist on the third line.

The fourth line had Luke Glendening centering David Legwand and Drew Miller, with Joakim Andersson rotating in.

Zetterberg most likely out for Game 4, but that could all change come Thursday

DETROIT >> Is he in or is he out for Game 4 Thursday night against the Boston Bruins?

That was the big question after Henrik Zetterberg skated lines for the first time since undergoing successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc which was rubbing against a nerve, which caused severe back pain.

From the sounds of things, probably not.

“The good thing is (the decision’s) not in my corner,” Zetterberg said after practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I’ve got to be cleared by the doctor. I’ve got to do all those exams. I’m just preparing myself to get into better and better shape, try and get as much game like situations as I can in practice. Today was a good day of that.

“This is just part of the process,” Zetterberg added. “The more I amp stuff up in the gym and on the ice now we just have to wait and see the reactions. If I don’t feel any setbacks or don’t feel anything bad that’s when I’ll probably start that conversation, but still this was the first practice I’ve really had where I’ve been in all the drills and skating a line.”

Zetterberg skated on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader.

The main reason he was able to skate on a line was because Pavel Datsyuk did not skate.

“Still taking it day by day, I still have to do some skating,” Zetterberg said. “This was nice. In the playoffs you rarely have any practices, game like practices or moments. Today was a good day of that. Hopefully I can get some more of those in here.

“It’s tough not to be able to play in the playoffs,” Zetterberg continued. “This time of the year you want to be out there. It was tough enough to watch the regular season, playoffs are even harder.”

Zetterberg began practicing with the team last Thursday.

Zetterberg has been sidelined since the Winter Olympics after playing just one game with Sweden.

He hasn’t ruled out possibly returning in the first round of the playoffs, but it’s more likely he’ll be back if the Wings advance to the next round.

“I have to feel ready to play,” Zetterberg said. “Today was a good step in practicing. We’re still saying round two, but we all know we gained a couple days. I can’t really say anything now. I’m just happy I had my first real skate and now we’ll see how I feel in the morning.”

Despite playing in just 45 of the Wings’ 82 games this season, Zetterberg finished tied for third on the team in points with 48 and led the team with a plus-19.

“It’s tough to find good practices in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said. “You don’t practice. You only play games. So one of these days you just have to make a decision. The conditioning you’ll get when you play games. It’s tough when you’re skating on your own because you won’t get the same thing. Once I feel good enough to see if I’m cleared that’s probably when I’ll be playing games. I’m going to have still go through a few more steps before I have that conversation.”

Zetterberg, 33, missed 11 games in December with a slightly herniated disc. He also missed two games in January due to it.

Zetterberg began having issues with his back in 2008, which made him miss the All-Star break.
In 2007, he injured his vertebra and missed several weeks.

“I think he’s looking great out there since he started skating,” Tomas Tatar said. “He’d be a big power boost for us. That would be really good and really helpful, but I don’t know how far away he is. I don’t have any updates. I just know he looks really good out there.”

“He’s our captain, our leader, huge boost,” Gustav Nyquist said. “I don’t have a timetable so I don’t know if it’s possible he’ll be back. I have no idea. But obviously it’s great to see him out there especially when you saw him in that much pain when he first got back from the Olympics. That’s not fun to see a guy you look up to and your leader being hurt like that. So it’s great to see him back.”

Wings not getting enough from their veteran players

DETROIT >> The Wings’ veterans have been pretty much silenced through the first three games of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven opening round series with the Boston Bruins.

“When I look at Pavel (Datsyuk), he’s playing against (David) Krejci and (Patrice) Bergeron, two world-class players,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We all know the situation with him, he’s doing what he can on … as healthy as he can, but we need more from everybody.

“I thought we played a good Game 1,” Babcock added. “They’ve responded since that time. We’ve had no push back if you look at the two games.”

Datsyuk and Luke Glendening have the Wings’ goals in the series.

Johan Franzen, Drew Miller and Darren Helm each have an assist.

That’s it point wise for the Wings this series.

“I was disappointed with tonight,” Babcock said. “I wasn’t as disappointed with our game in Boston, I knew they were going to push. But I was disappointed with tonight. We didn’t do a good enough job, whether that be as a coaching staff, we didn’t have them settled down enough, whether we didn’t have enough players digging in. When you go through the whole thing, hard to find guys out there.”

Detroit has been outscored 7-1 since winning the opener 1-0.

“I don’t know about embarrassed, it’s sport, you make mistakes,” Babcock said. “We’ve got to come in tomorrow … I didn’t talk to them tonight after the game at all. We’ll come in tomorrow and get regrouped. We know we’re in a series. They just got the home ice back. We had three home games, we just gave away one. We’ve got to get back in it. But to me, I don’t think there’s ever anything wrong with losing when you maximize your group and did everything you could. That’s why that’s disappointing to me. We’ve been a way better team than that. That’s unacceptable. And that’s not taking away anything from the Bruins.”

The Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s overall this season, lost in last year’s Stanley Cup final after winning it two seasons ago.

Asked if experience is playing a role in series Babcock said. “I thought we looked like kids tonight for sure, no question about it.”