Sharks-Wings: LeBrun's Game 6 preview

DETROIT -- It sure wasn't a boring morning at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday.

The San Jose Sharks will be without leading-scorer Ryane Clowe, while the Detroit Red Wings will insert Mike Modano for the injured Johan Franzen (ankle).

Sharks coach Todd McLellan gave the traditional "upper-body injury" status for Clowe, who didn't accompany the team to Detroit. McLellan also denied the injury had anything to do with the huge hit Clowe took from Detroit blueliner Niklas Kronwall in Game 5.

"He finished the game ... it has nothing to do with the hit that Kronwall laid on him," McLellan said. "We think with this injury that he'll be able to play as we move forward. We'll wait and see when we get back."

Clowe is a sizeable loss for the Sharks. His impact goes beyond the team-leading 13 points (4-9) he has put up this postseason. His physical play on a second line with Logan Couture and Dany Heatley has been huge in these playoffs. He's also the emotional leader on this team.

"It's a big loss," Sharks blueliner Dan Boyle said after the morning skate. "He's been one of our best players all year long and the playoffs, too. If guys get injured, other guys have to step up, and that's what we're looking for."

Sharks captain Joe Thornton said the team has been able to deal with injuries before.

"During the course of the year, guys are going to go down. It's just no different," Thornton said. "Guys have to step up just like anybody else went down. It's business as usual and we'll have guys step up in his place."

It was unclear which player would replace Clowe in the lineup. McLellan said he was still weighing his options. The Clowe-Couture-Heatley line has been the most consistent in the lineup.

"Everybody has to pick it up that much more,'' Sharks forward Patrick Marleau said. "He's a big part of this team. It's an opportunity for someone to step up."

Marleau enters Game 6 without a point in the series. With Clowe out, Marleau sees it as a perfect opportunity to step up.

"I think so, yeah. Everybody should take it upon themselves to do a bit more," Marleau said. "Not go out of the system, but a bit more intensity and focus on everybody's part."

"You never want to have one of your top guys out, but it's one of those things within a series that can bring a team together," Boyle said.

Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Modano finally gets to play in this series. He has played in only one playoff game this spring, Game 4 at Phoenix.

"It was tough last night sleeping, knowing that I was playing and there was no mystery about it," Modano said after the morning skate. "I mean, you get kind of restless sleep, but then again you have time to really think about what you want to do as a player and what's expected of you. It's a Game 6, an elimination game, and the fans are going to be very revved up."

Wings coach Mike Babcock said Modano would begin the game alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, although he showed once again in Game 5 that when the going gets tough he will put Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together.

Either way, Modano is in.

"I'm excited just to be a part of it," Modano said. "It's all you look forward to all season long, to be involved in some sense and be on the ice with these guys and competing, knowing they're going through some physical and mental abuse out there and to kind of help lighten that load maybe and not be such a target."

Brian Rafalski didn't skate this morning, but Babcock said he would definitely play.

A better start

Both teams talked about the need for a strong start tonight.

"Game 5 was a brutal start," Kronwall said. "We didn't play well for two periods. Jimmy [Howard] kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. If we play the same way we did in Game 5, we'll be in big trouble, so we have to come out with a better start. We have to move our legs better."

And finally ...

McLellan was asked what he expected of Marleau in the wake of Jeremy Roenick's much-publicized comments.

"My expectations of Patty are no different for tonight than any other night, regardless of a comment that is made on TV," McLellan said. "We expect him to show up and compete hard. He's one of those world-class players; he can skate and shoot. I feel that there's a little bit more there in his game and I think we're going to get it."