DETROIT – There’s a light at the end of the injury tunnel for the Red Wings.
Eight players are currently sidelined with injuries, but a few of them may be back in the lineup as early as Saturday when Detroit travels to Toronto, beginning with defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
DeKeyser has been out for five weeks with a separated shoulder, and as his range of motion and strength continue to improve, he’s itching to get back on the ice.
“I feel great,” DeKeyser said. “I mean some stuff is going to come back to me when I start playing as far as maybe being in game shape and that kind of thing but skating well and moving the puck well, I’m shooting well so I feel really good.”
The defenseman will know more about the date of his return when he meets with team doctors prior to tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena.
“DeKeyser is close,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I don’t know if he’s playing Saturday, Monday or the 28th.”
DeKeyser, 23, is hoping for one of the former options.
“Yeah, Toronto on Saturday and Monday Islanders I think yeah so hopefully get into one of those we’ll see,” he said.
Holland also gave the following medical updates on the other wounded Wings:
Henrik Zetterberg – He skated with the team this morning and is expected to return from his lower back injury next Saturday against the Florida Panthers. Detroit’s captain has missed eight games with the injury.
Holland said Zetterberg is coming along “very good.”
“He’ll be ready to go the 28th.”
Justin Abdelkader – He skated the last two days after sustaining a concussion from an illegal hit to the head by Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland, who received a five-game suspension from the league.
“Feel good so far, had a little bit of a skate, a bag skate, so that all went well,” Abdelkader said following Thursday’s practice. “Hopefully keep progressing, hopefully be able to play before the break, but we’ll see.”
The forward is symptom-free after experiencing headaches and dizziness for two days after the hit, and Holland expects him to return before Christmas break.
“Abby possibly Saturday or Monday, 28th for sure,” Holland said.
Gustav Nyquist – He is taking it one day at a time after suffering a groin injury Sunday in a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Nyquist is day to day, he’s getting better,” Holland said. “We’ll see how he feels Saturday morning.”
Jimmy Howard – He skated mildly before the team’s morning skate Thursday, and is expected to return to the lineup during the week leading up to the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The goaltender sprained his left MCL in practice on Dec. 11. He last played in a 3-2 shootout loss at Florida.
“He had his pads on a little bit (today),” Holland said. “I wouldn’t rule out on our road trip to Florida-Nashville. … Even if he’s ready to go we won’t play him on the 28th because he’s going to need some practice time. But I would think the 30th, the Winter Classic, the 4th in Dallas, that week in there, he’ll be in the net, barring a setback.”
Johan Franzen – He will be out until after Christmas with a concussion suffered from a collision with Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas last Sunday.
Stephen Weiss – His groin injury resurfaced when the center returned to South Florida for the first time since signing with the Red Wings last July. He will see a specialist in Philadelphia on Friday to see if the injury requires surgery.
“Going tomorrow to see a specialist,” Holland said. “In the last month he had groin issues. … I’m assuming the issues he has now probably surfaced a month ago.”
Darren Helm – He has been skating with the Red Wings since suffering a shoulder injury against Philadelphia on Dec. 4. Howver, the Wings’ center missed Thursday’s morning skate with the flu.
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