DETROIT – The Red Wings could get a pair of veteran forwards back in the lineup in time for their nationally televised game against the Chicago Blackhawks in a special Easter Sunday matinee at Joe Louis Arena.
Veteran forwards Johan Franzen (lower body) and Mikael Samuelsson (finger) have been cleared to play, but coach Mike Babcock will wait until Sunday morning before making a decision on the lineup, he said.
Franzen was hurt sometime during the second period of Thursday’s 2-0 loss at San Jose. He did not return Thursday, and was listed as day to day. Meanwhile, Samuelsson has appeared in just three games this season after he suffered a groin injury during the mini training camp in mid-January. He played in Minnesota on Feb. 17 only to suffer a non-dislocated break of the left index finger during the morning skate at Nashville on Feb. 19.
If he plays Sunday, Samuelsson will be making his home debut at The Joe.
“Great news on Mule, obviously, we were concerned coming out of San Jose,” general manager Ken Holland told the media Saturday afternoon. “Samuelsson we felt was going to play tomorrow. Really he was cleared to play on Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s all conditioning, so he said he feels pretty good.”
Before both forwards can be inserted into the 23-man roster, a move will be needed, which will likely be Gustav Nyquist, who will be returned to Grand Rapids.
“Just want to wake up tomorrow morning and make sure that nothing’s changed with Franzen and nothing’s changed with Samuelsson,” Holland added.
Franzen has seven goals and 11 assists with a plus-9 rating in 27 games. Samuelsson had one assist and was a minus-2 before he suffered a relapse on the groin injury in the second game of the season, in Columbus on Jan. 21.
The Red Wings are also inching closer to see the day that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi may be back in the lineup. Both players, who have been sidelined by debilitating lower back pain, skated again with the team on Saturday, though Helm’s remains more cautious and did not skate for the entire hour.
“I just saw all of the MRIs and all of that, and they were explaining it all to me, and it sounds like things are going in a positive direction for him,” Babcock said. “But we’ve been hearing that for a long time, so when he starts practicing every day and has no side-effects, we’ll know something good’s happened.”
As for Bertuzzi, the Wings’ coach was a little more optimistic.
“Bert came on the trip and got himself a little bit of sun, so he’s looking good,” Babcock said. “He’s skating better. Feeling good.”
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