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Filppula to miss Ottawa game

Update via Ansar Khan of mlive.com

Center Valtteri Filppula will sit out tonight's game against Ottawa due to a sore groin. Filppula said it flared up on him in Thursday's game in San Jose. He is hoping to be ready for Finland's first game at the Olympics on Tuesday.

This is kind of big for two reasons: 1.) Brad May has been waived so the availability of forwards is kind of slim right now, especially with Patrick Eaves already out of the line up with a foot injury. 2.) Filppula seems a little worried about his availability for the Olympics (mentioned later in the Khan post).

Filppula leaving the line-up shouldn't hurt the team that badly for one game and the extra rest could be crucial heading into the Olympic hockey revving up next week. If Filppula's groin injury is enough to keep him out of the Olympics--which hopefully it is not--then he would be even more rested when the NHL season resumes on March 1.

Looks like Niklas Kronwall will be back in the line-up (I sort of got it right in the Morning Skate) after a knee injury. This will create a little bit of a surplus of defensemen. Khan says that Babcock will dress seven defensemen tonight and that Derek Meech could play forward if necessary.

Continue after the jump for more information and potential lines for tonight.

Babcock also said that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will be split up tonight, probably because of the Filppula injury and not a chemistry/meshing issue. Maltby is expected to play tonight despite having a shoulder problem that has nagged him all season long supposedly. 

Splitting Zetterberg and Datsyuk up in a situation like this does not trouble me at all given their abilities to center a line. Holmstrom should pop up to the top line over Bertuzzi and the combination of Bert-Hank-Cleary should work pretty well as well as Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom. Datsyuk should be able to set up both of the Swedes pretty well tonight and they're both excellent finishers--should create some good chances.

Potential forward lines for tonight:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Bertuzzi-Zetterberg-Cleary
Draper-Helm-Miller/Maltby
Miller/Maltby-Williams-Meech (possibly)

Other news: Brad May has cleared waivers (surprise!) and will have to choose if he wants to stay in action and play for the Griffins or whether he will simply retire.