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December 2, 2003 - Draper sparks Red Wings with unexpected offense
My Kris Draper Page

Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Image
David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Kris Draper scores a goal against Edmonton last week.

Draper sparks Red Wings with unexpected offense

Image
David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Kirk Maltby on Red Wings teammate Kris Draper: "Drapes is one of the hardest-working guys we have."

Hot streak

Kris Draper has six goals in the Red Wings' last seven games:
Date Opponent G Result
Nov. 19 Columbus 1 W, 5-1
Nov. 20 at Columbus 0 L, 3-0
Nov. 22 at Minnesota 1 W, 5-2
Nov. 24 Washington 1 L, 4-1
Nov. 26 Edmonton 2 W, 7-1
Nov. 28 Islanders 1 W, 6-0
Nov. 29 at St. Louis 0 W, 2-1

NHL goal-scoring leaders

Player No.

I. Kovalchuk, Atl. 17

B. Guerin, Dal. 15

R. Nash, Col. 15

R. Lang, Wash. 14

M. Hejduk, Col. 14

L. Nagy, Phoe. 13

B. Hull, Det. 12

K. Tkachuk, St.L. 12

M. Naslund, Van. 11

B. Morrison, Van. 11

M. Czerkawski, N.Y.I. 11

J. King, Van. 11

K. Draper, Det. 10

S. Yzerman, Det. 10

M. Hossa, Ott. 10

M. Recchi, Phila. 10

B. Rolston, Bos. 10

C. Stillman, T.B. 10

O. Jokinen, Fla. 10

M. Messier, N.Y.R. 10

P. Bondra, Wash. 10

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DETROIT -- Don't bring it up to Kris Draper, the fact that he's a scoring machine.

He doesn't want to hear it. Not now, not ever.

"I don't want to get caught up in it," said Draper, who amazingly is tied with Steve Yzerman for second on the Red Wings with 10 goals.

Amazing but true.

Draper's career-high for goals is 15 -- just five fewer than he has scored in 25 games this season. It took him a full 82-game schedule in 2001-02 to hit 15, and he has reached double figures just three times in 13 previous NHL seasons.

"I don't even want to think about it," Draper said of his newfound scoring touch. "I just want to keep doing what I'm doing."

It's not that Draper is superstitious, or uncooperative. It's just that Draper, a career grinder, is a bit uncomfortable talking about scoring goals. Draper knows his teammates will be quick to put him in line if he begins to think too highly of himself.

"I'll never forget where I came from, don't worry about that," Draper said. "I got a lot of guys who make sure I don't."

On a team that was looking for different avenues of offense after the departures of centers Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov and forward Luc Robitaille over the summer, Draper has been an unexpected source.

"Drapes is one of the hardest-working guys we have," said Kirk Maltby, a longtime linemate of Draper's on the Wings' checking line. "He's had some opportunities to get shots off and he's made the most of it. It's nice to see the puck go in for him."

Yzerman said Draper is looking to shoot a little more this season, and is playing with confidence after seeing some pucks go in the net.

"Once they start going in, you stop thinking and just shoot," Yzerman said. "He has an increased role, some extra playing time, and he's capitalizing on it. He's a player that's worked awfully hard and has improved year to year."

Draper believes the extra playing time has had a major effect on his production. He is averaging 16 minutes, 33 seconds of ice time per game, and he's been inching toward the 17- and 18-minute range in recent weeks.

He averaged just over 16 minutes last season, and about 15 minutes the season before.

"When you play 18 or 19 minutes per game, get those extra shifts, that's a major difference," Draper said. "A lot of things can happen, you can get a few more (scoring) opportunities."

Lately, Coach Dave Lewis has begun using Draper on the power play, something that would have been unheard of in seasons past.

"That's what every player is looking for," Draper said. "Ice time, the opportunity to play, a bigger role."

Lewis believes Draper is being rewarded these days for the hard work he puts in at both ends of the ice.

"He works hard and he's being rewarded; the pucks are going in," Lewis said after Draper scored two goals last Wednesday in a rout over Edmonton. "This is probably the best offensive start in his career and he's having fun with it. He's always full of energy, almost like a kettle on a stove. You have to release the steam every now and then or it'll blow up. He's coming to the rink with that attitude every day."