If Mike Babcock was willing to let Johan Franzen hobble around the ice on a bum ankle for 10 minutes in Game 5, you’d have to think that he’ll insert ‘The Mule’ into the lineup so as long as he can complete a turn on his skates. With 72 points in 83 career playoff games, Franzen has been one of Detroit’s best post-season performers over the last six seasons.

The Sharks find themselves in a similar position of playing the waiting game with Ryane Clowe. Clowe, the Sharks leading scorer, has arguably been the team’s best player in the 2010-11 playoffs. He missed Game 6 with a mysterious ‘upper-body’ injury.

Both Franzen and Clowe will be game-time decisions, with neither team likely to tip their hand until the last possible minute. Babcock wants Franzen on the ice, but will make whatever decision is best for the Detroit Red Wings. He also stressed that you never really know what the right decision is until the final buzzer, via The Windsor Star:

“I’m sure if he’s lobbying, we’ll listen to that. We’ll see if he’s available, but we’ll try to make the right decisions. The only way you know you made the right decision is when you win.”

Clowe’s status is somewhat murkier than Franzen’s. Most observers figured that a huge hit from Niklas Kronwall in Game 5 may have led to Clowe’s injury, which we’re still not entirely clear on. The team insists that the hit has nothing to do with Clowe being sidelined, but conspiracy theorists are leaning towards his woes being the result of a concussion. We probably won’t know either way until this series concludes.

For what it’s worth, McLellan is devising his Game 7 plans with Ryane Clowe in tow, via Mercury News:

“Without Clowey, it’s a big scramble to find somebody to fill his shoes and fill that role,” McLellan said. “We have a Plan A and a Plan B. Plan A is with Clowey, and that’s the one we’re working on right now.”

We’ll have more on Franzen and Clowe’s status as we approach game time…