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Lidstrom on pace to return by Sunday

Back in the lineup, Lidstrom, Rafalski strengthen blue line

Tuesday, 03.4.2008 / 6:05 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Lidstrom on pace to return by Sunday
DETROIT Nicklas Lidstrom could return a few days earlier than expected, and could be available for Sunday’s home game against the Nashville Predators.

“It’s a possibility,” said Lidstrom, when asked about a Sunday return. “I felt a little sluggish out there; haven’t skated for two weeks. Skated a little bit yesterday and today. I felt OK, but I’m hoping that it will improve and get better in the next few days so I can hopefully play this weekend.”

Lidstrom has been sidelined since suffering a sprained MCL during the first period of the Wings’ 4-0 win at Colorado on Feb. 18. Lidstrom was hurt when he fell ackwardly to the ice after he was hit heavily into the boards on Avs forward Ian Laperriere.

Without Lidstrom in the lineup, the Wings have lost four of the last five games.

“It sounds like he’s going to be ready for Sunday, so that will be a positive thing if he can wrap this up this week in practice,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, he’s our leader. He’s our best player and we’d like to have him.”

Lidstrom leads all NHL defensemen in scoring, compiling seven goals and 50 assists. This is the sixth season that he has assisted on at least 50 goals.

The Red Wings will get an added boast to the blue line when veteran defenseman Brian Rafalski (groin) returns to the lineup Wednesday against St. Louis. Rafalski has missed the last eight games, dating back to Feb. 12.

Even though the Wings were without four defensemen at one time last month, it’s Lidstrom’s return that should give this team a much needed push heading into the playoff stretch. Niklas Kronwall returned last Friday from a clavicle injury, and has four assists in two games. Chris Chelios (leg) is still sidelined with no clear answer as to when he might return.

“Just getting healthy is going to make a huge difference,” Babcock said, “just because the speed of our team without our backend moving the puck hasn’t been near as good, therefore we haven’t generated near the offense. The bottom line is you want to get healthy, so you can spread your talent out a little farther and make it hard to play against.”

Though Lidstrom left the ice early Tuesday, he hopes to skate in a full practice soon.

“Hopefully later this week I can do some of those battle drills and get into some more difficult skating and more quickness than I did today,” he said.
This week could be a huge benefit for the Wings, who embark on a season-long, five game homestand at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings have the luxury of finishing the regular season at home on 10 of the final 15 games.

That alone, could give Detroit a lift heading into the playoffs.

“We would like to get our team back and get back playing at the top of our game, because that to me gives you confidence,” Babcock said. “It’s great to go in (to the playoffs) feeling good.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 117 140 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89