The pingpong mystery is solved

DETROIT -- Nashville defenseman Hal Gill skated again with the team on Tuesday during the morning skate before Game 4, but will remain sidelined with a lower-body injury. The veteran defenseman hasn't played yet this postseason.

"He's improving every day, made some real good improvement," coach Barry Trotz said during the pregame news conference. "He's not in tonight, but really good improvement. I thought he looked very good, actually."

After tonight's Game 4, this series doesn't pick up again until Friday in Nashville, giving Gill a few more days to rest. Following practice, he declined to comment through a team spokesman.

Trotz didn't want to name Gill's replacement. Jack Hillen played in Gill's spot in the lineup for the first two games of the series and Ryan Ellis filled the spot in Game 3. Ellis played just 7:50 in the Predators' 3-2 win on Sunday.

Fast start key for Wings
There was a lot of talk over the past couple of days in the Detroit dressing room about starting on time in Game 4. For whatever reason, the Red Wings have consistently been a slow-starting team this season, and it's costing them in the playoffs.

"We've been talking about it the whole year," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "It's something we really talked about and something we want to do better. It's something easier said than done. Everyone wants to start good."

Ericsson said the Red Wings play better with a little pressure, and the pressure is certainly heightened Tuesday night with Detroit desperate to prevent a 3-1 series deficit. The Red Wings have the confidence to play well from behind, in games and in the series, but Ericsson would prefer they not put themselves in that position.

"We usually play good at the end of games. A lot of games we've been down by one or two goals and we come back," he said. "Why would we put ourself in a position like that?"

Pingpong controversy cleared up
Rumors circulated Monday that Todd Bertuzzi single-handedly prevented the Predators from using the Red Wings' pingpong table in the hallway between dressing rooms, packing it up and hauling it off. While Bertuzzi made it clear that the Predators were not allowed to use the table Monday, Red Wings security was actually responsible for the dirty work.

Predators Brandon Yip and Roman Josi were the unfortunate duo denied access to the table.

"We just wanted to play a little pingpong to get our coordination going, but they said they weren't allowing us to play," Yip said. "There was no confrontation."

Yip said it wasn't a problem during the regular season and the two play enough to pass a trophy back and forth. Yip claims a large series lead on Josi.

But this is the playoffs; no time for courtesies between teams.

"Maybe we can challenge them in doubles for the table," Yip joked.