Howard, Franzen shooting to return Friday; Ericsson hopes for Wednesday

DETROIT — Jimmy Howard (groin) is shooting to return Friday at home against the Nashville Predators.

“Right now it’s more about getting healthy, getting out there and not thinking about groins, and just playing,” Howard said. “We’re taking a little bit different route this time around, trying to strengthen it a little more.”

Howard has taken shots in two practices.

“We’re on the right track,” Howard said. “I felt like I can do everything. I can do all that, it’s no problem. It wasn’t really stretching it or anything like that sort of motion that was bothering me, it was more getting tired and feeling weak, so strengthening it is the key now.”

Johan Franzen (back spasms) hopes to return sometime this week. He has skated three straight days.

“Now it’s more about getting back in shape and getting skating,” Franzen said. “You lose more than you think being out for a week. You’re off one week and it goes straight downhill.”

Franzen had an MRI and nothing appeared ‘out of the ordinary’.

“Just looked like an old hockey player’s back,” Franzen smiled. “A 32-year-old hockey player’s back.”

Jonathan Ericsson (fractured left wrist) feels he could return as early as Wednesday in Columbus.

“It’s getting really close,” Ericsson said. “I think we want to be more careful now, so it doesn’t get worse before the playoffs. We’re trying to be smart about it.

“Shooting is fine, it’s more battling stuff,” Ericsson added. “I haven’t really tried pushing people around in the corners. That’s going to be a test. I’m going to have someone like maybe Mule to push around the corner.”

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