Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen are expected to play for Detroit tonight


The Detroit Red Wings’ offense was frighteningly dangerous in their first round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes, even while missing key pieces. That puzzle should be nearly complete to start their second round series against the San Jose Sharks tonight, as both Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen are expected to return to the fold.

Mike Modano and Kris Draper will reportedly be healthy scratches to make room for those two outstanding forwards.

Zetterberg missed the entire four-game sweep while Franzen missed Game 4 because of an ankle injury (although his facial wounds probably didn’t help much either).

The Red Wings will probably need more offensive punch in this second round series than they did against the Coyotes. (San Jose scored 248 goals in 2010-11 compared to 231 by Phoenix.) Detroit is expected to line Zetterberg up with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom, reuniting one of the best trios in the NHL. Franzen remains an outstanding playoff performer himself, with three points in three games in the first round and 44 in his last 38 postseason games.

Last year’s series against the Sharks was exciting but ultimately short and disappointing for the Red Wings. If they want this rematch to turn out better, they’ll need great performances from star players such as Franzen and Zetterberg.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?