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Howard to return vs. Nashville

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 12:55 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Howard to return vs. Nashville
DETROIT Jimmy Howard will get his sixth start this month when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators tonight in what should be a Western Conference grudge-match of epic proportion.

OK, maybe not epic, but certainly important for two clubs fighting for home-ice in the first round of the playoffs, which begin April 11.

“Tonight's a huge game, it could have huge home-ice implications,” Howard said. “We're going to have to play our game, forget about what happened in Columbus. … We got to go out there and continue to pay attention to details.”

The Wings maintain a one-point lead over the Predators for the No. 4 playoff seed, which carries with it the last home-ice spot in the opening round.

With five games remaining in the regular-season, this last week should provide adequate time for him to prepare for the playoffs, Howard said.

“Excited to be back out there with the guys and playing,” said Howard who has battled through two groin strains and a fractured finger for the last two months. “Just going out there and forgetting about the past here, the last month and a half. I think I'm prepared, I've been working hard to get back there, I've been working hard on the ice. I'm just going to go out there and play.”

Because of the injuries, Howard has started eight of the last 25 games for the Wings. Since breaking his right index finger in the first game in February, the Wings have posted an 11-10-4 record.

But the past is the past, and there isn’t much the Wings can do about that now, other than take care of business, particularly since four of the last five games are at Joe Louis Arena.

“Jimmy says he's feeling good about himself so obviously we'd like to get him going,” coach Mike Babcock said. “When you look at our last 22 games, he's played in seven of them. We need to get him going. No different than the rest of our team. There's a lot of urgency to get playing at the highest possible level going into the playoffs and he's the same.”

Still, there’s a slight concern that Howard’s groin injury, which forced him to miss four more games after he returned from the initial strain, will flare up again. But Howard isn’t worried this time around.

“The second time we took a different approach, more strengthening it, it feels a lot stronger out there,” he said. “Today was the date from the start we were targeting, 4-5 games left, chance to get back out there and get into game-shape.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Roose_Bill

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80