Mike Modano, Valtteri Filppula glad to be back for Wings
GEORGE SIPPLE DETROIT FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER - February 27, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Forwards Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula were both happy to be back in action Saturday night.

Neither player had a point in the Wings' 3-2 shoot-out win over the Sabres. Both players said there were moments they felt the pace of the game was ahead of them.

That was to be expected, though, since Modano had missed 41 straight games with a lacerated wrist and Filppula had missed the last eight games with a sprained knee.

When a reporter asked Modano how he felt in his first game back, Johan Franzen answered "powerful."

"I don't know if that's the word," Modano said. "What's the opposite of that?"

Modano lost his first seven face-offs, before winning one in the third period to finish 1-for-8. He had four shots in 13:46 of ice time.

"It was a lot of 50-50 (draws) that just bounce sometimes a bad way," Modano said. "Overall it was OK. A good start. Did some good things.

"First shift came together pretty good and had a good shot. Had a couple other chances. In the third came in off the side and just didn't put a lot of them where I'd like to put them, but nonetheless had a couple good lucks at it."

Modano wore a wrist brace crafted by Jeremy Murray, who also made the custom clear face mask worn by Rip Hamilton of the Pistons.

Modano said it was tough coming up with something that he could get comfortable wearing and tried "three or four different gadgets."

"We had a seat-belt strap, but it didn't work," Modano said. "I always felt the bumper on the back would be the best once we strapped it down and held it into place."

Filppula was plus-1 with one shot in 16:37 of ice time.

"Felt like first game back," Filppula said. "The leg felt pretty good. That's the main thing. It was fun to get back playing. That's pretty much it from that game. Hopefully games start going better from here.

"You always have to play that first one and it felt like that. But had fun and hopefully I can do more in the next games."

Friendly rivalry: Wings coach Mike Babcock remains "a big fan" of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Their friendship has only strengthened since Ruff was part of Babcock's coaching staff for Team Canada, which won gold at the 2010 Olympics.

"Working with him at the Olympics, you get to know him good and get to know about his family," Babcock said. "So you talk about that.

"Before we played Tampa I talked to him. He helped us out with that. We touch base."



This article originally posted at www.freep.com
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