Tag Archives: johan franzen

Wings not getting enough from their veteran players

DETROIT >> The Wings’ veterans have been pretty much silenced through the first three games of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven opening round series with the Boston Bruins.

“When I look at Pavel (Datsyuk), he’s playing against (David) Krejci and (Patrice) Bergeron, two world-class players,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We all know the situation with him, he’s doing what he can on … as healthy as he can, but we need more from everybody.

“I thought we played a good Game 1,” Babcock added. “They’ve responded since that time. We’ve had no push back if you look at the two games.”

Datsyuk and Luke Glendening have the Wings’ goals in the series.

Johan Franzen, Drew Miller and Darren Helm each have an assist.

That’s it point wise for the Wings this series.

“I was disappointed with tonight,” Babcock said. “I wasn’t as disappointed with our game in Boston, I knew they were going to push. But I was disappointed with tonight. We didn’t do a good enough job, whether that be as a coaching staff, we didn’t have them settled down enough, whether we didn’t have enough players digging in. When you go through the whole thing, hard to find guys out there.”

Detroit has been outscored 7-1 since winning the opener 1-0.

“I don’t know about embarrassed, it’s sport, you make mistakes,” Babcock said. “We’ve got to come in tomorrow … I didn’t talk to them tonight after the game at all. We’ll come in tomorrow and get regrouped. We know we’re in a series. They just got the home ice back. We had three home games, we just gave away one. We’ve got to get back in it. But to me, I don’t think there’s ever anything wrong with losing when you maximize your group and did everything you could. That’s why that’s disappointing to me. We’ve been a way better team than that. That’s unacceptable. And that’s not taking away anything from the Bruins.”

The Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s overall this season, lost in last year’s Stanley Cup final after winning it two seasons ago.

Asked if experience is playing a role in series Babcock said. “I thought we looked like kids tonight for sure, no question about it.”

Babcock juggles up his top three lines two days into preparing for series opener with Boston

DETROIT >> Just two days into Detroit’s preparation for its opening round series with the Boston Bruins, Wings coach Mike Babcock has already changed up his forward line combinations.

On Tuesday, Pavel Datsyuk centered Johan Franzen and Justin Abdelkader, while Tomas Jurco was on a line centered by Darren Helm along with Daniel Alfredsson.

On Wednesday, Nyquist was with Datsyuk and Abdelkader and Jurco was reunited with the Kid Line along with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar.

“I think it’s helped even more that we’ve adjusted so well and we’ve done it together and we’ve relied on each other,” Sheahan said of the lines with his former Grand Rapids Griffins. “Obviously Tats and Nyqi and sometimes Tats and Jurcs, we have some good chemistry but I think it’s just working hard and that’s the biggest thing.”

Franzen, Helm and Alfredsson made up another line.

“There are a lot of things we’ve got to do,” Helm said. “They’re a really good team and we’ve got to be on top of our game, doing everything we can as well as we can. If we do that, then we’ve got a chance to be successful. If not, if we’re not driving to the net, forechecking hard, being in position, then it might be a short series.”

The fourth line of Luke Glendening centering David Legwand and Drew Miller remained the same.

Jurco back in lineup and inserted on top line alongside Legwand and Franzen

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ top line will have a different look to it tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

Wings coach Mike Babcock has inserted Tomas Jurco to skate alongside David Legwand and Johan Franzen to at least begin the game.

“He’s a big guy, good speed and good skill level,” Babcock said. “He gives us another real good player. He’s been an important guy for us, missed him when he was injured, helps on the power play. Good two-way player.”

Jurco, 21, has missed seven games with a broken rib.

“He probably thinks he’s dragging those old guys around,” Babcock said. “I can put (Gustav) Nyquist back there in a heartbeat but Nyquist on that line is flying. (Jurco) has a skill set, he makes good plays with the puck, can really skate. That line needs more tempo. We’re trying to have more balance, we need to generate on more than just one line.”

That move keeps the new Kid Line intact – Riley Sheahan, Nyquist and Tomas Tatar – and drops Daniel Alfredsson to the third line with Darren Helm and Joakim Andersson.

“The big thing with having players back that haven’t played in a while they’re trying to catch up,” Babcock said. “So you get their number back and their name on the back of the sweater but you watch them and they’re not the same. I’m hoping Helmer, now after a few games under his belt, will be Helmer and be able to contribute. Normally your first game back you’re all right and then you fall off the face of the world for a couple of games. So hopefully Jurcs can go tonight.”

Jurco has five goals and 10 points in 26 games.

“It’s a good chance for me, good opportunity for me to get back in the game quick,” Jurco said. “I know obviously the second with Shea and Tats and Gus were playing good so I understand that coach wants to keep them that way so hopefully I’m going to fit in the first line and we’re going to play good too.”

Before getting injured, Jurco was a winger on that kid line with Sheahan and Tatar.

“I just have to play my game, that means just keep being physical and try to win some battles for them and just put some pucks in the net hopefully it’s going to go in,” Jurco said.

Not doing so much with the puck is what Babcock wants from Jurco.

“He’s going to score better eventually but he’s got to be physical, he’s got to be hard guy, he’s got to get on the inside, all the dangling stuff, that doesn’t score any goals, I don’t know what all that stuff is for,” Babcock said. “Entertain your friends in practice, I guess.”

Franzen continues war of words with Neil … ‘I’ve never had a fight in my whole life. It’s like me asking him to get hockey sense and good hands or something. ‘

DETROIT >> The third period on-ice incident between Johan Franzen and Ottawa’s Chris Neil has taken on a life of its own.

Just a day after Neil slammed Franzen to the Ottawa media, Saturday was Franzen’s time to respond.

“Someone told me, (they) said it was something weird,” Franzen said. “No one could really understand what it was. He said yellow streak or something?”

The Senators’ tough guy ripped Franzen’s helmet off and then began to rough up the Wings forward in the third period on Thursday.

What Neil said was, “(If) he wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go.’ Anytime. Any day. Anywhere. I’m 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. I’m giving up height. I’m giving up weight. I’m not scared of him. Bring it on.

“I’d take my cape off (if) he took the yellow streak off down the middle of his back,” Neil added.

The cape reference was in response to what Franzen after the Wings’ 6-1 win over the Senators on Thursday.

“I think he got a little upset,” said Franzen, who potted a hat trick in the game. “I don’t know (why), I have no clue. He usually shows up when the game’s over and tries to be the hero. Puts his cape on and goes and flies around out there. He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, I think. He usually steps up when the game is over and shows everyone that he really fights hard.”

Franzen has 11 goals in his past four games against the Senators, including a five-goal outburst back in 2011.

As for Neil’s reference to Franzen dropping his purse, “OK That’s tough. It’s funny. I definitely don’t care.”

Despite his size, Franzen is a skill player and not anywhere near a fighter.

“He thinks I’m not tough because I’m not fighting him,” Franzen said. “What does he have, like 30 fights a year? And he’s been doing that his whole career. I’ve never had a fight in my whole life. It’s like me asking him to get hockey sense and good hands or something. It’s kind of the same thing.

“I’ve never been fighting, didn’t grow up fighting,” Franzen continued. “For me it’s not a part of the game. I couldn’t care less … I’m not going to fight. It’s as easy as that. I’ve had enough concussions. I’m definitely not going to risk one doing something stupid like that.”

Another reason why Franzen isn’t real eager to drop the gloves is his latest bout with concussions.

After missing 16 straight games due to a concussion he returned for one game before going back to the sidelines for the final six games before the Olympic break.

“I definitely wouldn’t start with him,” Franzen said. “Like I said, it’s like me asking him to be a good hockey player.”

Prior to getting sidelined on Dec. 15 when Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas hit him in the face during a battle for the puck, Franzen had seven goals and 10 assists over his last 17 games.

“I’ve been getting head shots pretty much every year and I don’t think it’s ever been punishment for any of the hits I’ve gotten to the head,” Franzen said. “This was the third one, targeting the head. He just sucker-punched me.

“I don’t care really, it’s up to the league to … maybe they should actually try to protect the players … a play like that when he just drops his gloves and punches me in the head, if he doesn’t get anything for that I don’t know, seriously, what’s going on,” Franzen added.

Having Franzen healthy will be big down the stretch for the Wings with Henrik Zetterberg lost for the rest of the regular season after having back surgery.

“I didn’t say that,” Franzen said when asked if he believed fighting should be taken out of the game. “I said I don’t fight. I never played that way. I don’t see the reason to start now.”

Senators’ Neil: “I’d take my cape off (if Johan Franzen) took the yellow streak off down the middle of his back.”

DETROIT >> Johan Franzen has picked up right where he left off.

And that’s a very good sign for the Detroit Red Wings as they fight to extend their record run for berths in the postseason to 23 seasons.

Since returning from a concussion, Franzen has three goals and two assists over two games.

“He finds different ways to score and he’s in the right spots and he makes things happen out there,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’re happy he’s back playing for us. Obviously he’s a big part of our team.”

After missing 16 straight games due to a concussion he returned for one game before going back to the sidelines for the final six games before the Olympic break.

“The key for me is that he’s healthy,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s hard to do it when you’re sitting in the press box. He’s an important player for us. He has the ability, he has the touch. Lots of guys play hard and don’t score, Mule can score.”

Prior to getting sidelined on Dec. 15 when Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas hit him in the face during a battle for the puck, Franzen had seven goals and 10 assists over his last 17 games.

Having Franzen find his scoring touch will help a team that has lost Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season after having back surgery.

And playing Ottawa always seems to help Franzen’s offensive output. He has 11 goals in his past four games against the Senators, including a five-goal outburst back in 2011.

“I like playing here,” Franzen said. “They’ve got Erik Karlsson on the other side. We grew up in the same little town. It’s fun to come in and play him. It’s something special every time. Just happy anytime we can keep him from the scoreboard, but it’s always fun to play him too.”

Franzen has 12 goals and 16 assists through 33 games this season.

“Regardless of where he is the puck’s coming to him,” Kronwall said. “Happy he’s back playing.”

“He’s obviously a really good player,” goalie Jonas Gustavsson said. “It’s always tough when you miss a piece like Zetterberg. You can’t really replace him, but the guys that are playing are really doing a good job. They showed that the whole season because we’ve been having a lot of injuries.

“We know what everyone in this organization is capable of and we believe in our group, whoever we put on the ice,” Gustavsson continued. “That’s the way it’s going to be, we can’t really focus on injured guys, we’ve got to focus on the guys that are playing. If you look at the talent we have in this organization we should be fine no matter how many injures we get.”

But Franzen’s growing concern is concussions becoming a recurring thing.

“It’s always going to be in the back of my head that it might come back because it did the last time,” Franzen said. “(I’ve) just got to go out there and try and see what happens.”

And that’s what made the incident Franzen, who notched his third career hat trick earlier in the game, had with Senators tough guy Chris Neil in the third period Thursday very alarming.

Neil ripped Franzen’s helmet off and then began to rough up the Wings forward.

“It’s probably not the best thing to do, getting hit in the face, but I don’t know, maybe the ref can stop that before it happens, I don’t know,” Franzen said. “He hit me once, but then the ref came in.”

Franzen began laughing on the ice when Neil, who received a roughing and a 10-minute misconduct penalty, tried to engage him to fight.

“I think he got a little upset,” Franzen said. “I don’t know (why), I have no clue. He usually shows up when the game’s over and tries to be the hero. Puts his cape on and goes and flies around out there. He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, I think. He usually steps up when the game is over and shows everyone that he really fights hard.”

Franzen also received a 10-minute misconduct.

“He tried to high-stick me after the draw right away and then he came after me, so I tried to stay close to him,” Franzen said. “(I don’t know) if he was going to run me into anything. He decided to rip the helmet off and hit me in the face.”

The two teams don’t meet again this regular season.

Neil, who didn’t speak after the game, addressed the incident Friday.

“The first shift and any shift he wants,” Neil told the Ottawa media after practice. “(If) he wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go.’ Anytime. Any day. Anywhere. I’m 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. I’m giving up height. I’m giving up weight. I’m not scared of him. Bring it on.”

Despite his size, Franzen is a skill player and not anywhere near a fighter.

“I’d take my cape off (if) he took the yellow streak off down the middle of his back,” Neil said.

Wings ready to begin life without their captain, Henrik Zetterberg

DETROIT >> Life without the captain begins Wednesday night in Montreal for the Detroit Red Wings.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Justin Abdelkader, on the loss of Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season. “We have to move forward with the group in here now. We can’t just keep answering the questions anymore about the guys that are out. He’s our captain, he’s our leader. It’s life without Z. We have to worry about the guys in here.”

“He’s the one who drives the train in here and you know it’s going to be tough without him but it’s no excuse,” Jimmy Howard said. “There are still a lot of great hockey players in this dressing room and we just have to play our game.”

Zetterberg had surgery on Friday to remove part of a disc which was rubbing against a nerve, which caused severe back pain.

“Well you just deal with it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “No sense worrying about it. We’ve got to find a way to get in (the playoffs). That’s what we’re going to do.”

Zetterberg played one game for Sweden at the Olympics before withdrawing.

“That’s a big loss,” Tomas Tatar said. “He was carrying. He’s the type of player when it’s a tied game he can decide it. But we’ve dealt with it before. (Injuries) have been happening all season long. It’s not easy to deal with, but it’s just hockey. Some seasons are like this, you get unlucky. We have good Grand Rapids guys that are filling the gap. They’ve come up and done a really good job and given us a chance to be where we’re at right now.”

Despite playing in just 45 of the Wings’ 58 games this season, Zetterberg leads the team in goals (16), assists (32), shots on goal (151) and plus-minus (plus-19).

“He’s our captain and best player so it’s a big loss,” Joakim Andersson said. “We have a lot of other good players that can do good stuff to make up for it and win games.

“We’ve been without Hank and (Pavel Datsyuk) a lot this year and many others,” Andersson continued. “We’ve been missing all our best players a bunch before so we know we can win games without them.”

The rest of the Wings’ injury news is a bit murky.

Datsyuk (knee) and Johan Franzen (concussion) appear ready to return to the lineup against the Canadiens, but that decision won’t be made until after the morning skate.

“I hope,” Datsyuk said when asked if he’s playing Wednesday. “I hope so one day the pain is (gone). Now it’s still the same.”

Datsyuk missed 14 of Detroit’s final 16 games before the Olympic break, but did play all five games with Russia finishing with six points in five games.

Franzen, who has missed 22 of the last 23 games, has been cleared to return. He had 17 points over his last 17 games before suffering a concussion on Dec. 15.

“It’s probably just the history of it coming back and stuff like that so let’s get this last practice in (Wednesday) morning and then we decide after,” Franzen said. “(Tuesday) was really good. Sunday was not as good as today but today was good.”

Two players that won’t return over the next two games are Stephen Weiss (sport hernia surgery) and Jakub Kindl (MCL).

“I still need a few more days of practice, obviously the decision will be up the coaching staff when they think I’ll be ready to come back and play in a game and make a decision whether they want me to play a game in Grand Rapids or just play up with us,” Weiss said. “Those decisions will be made in the next few days.”

Weiss made the trip to continue to practice.

Kindl missed the last two games before the break.

“I don’t feel any pain, but I feel my right leg is just a little weaker than the other one,” Kindl said. “I just need to practice and get that confidence back in my knee.”

Ryan Sproul was recalled from Grand Rapids and will make the trip to Montreal.

Franzen symptom free of concussions now, but worried about it becoming a reoccurring issue

DETROIT >> Johan Franzen has been symptom free of concussions for quite some time.

But he’s not ready to declare himself ready to return to action.

“It’s a first practice at full speed so you know I feel a little off,” said Franzen, who added he began skating again on Tuesday. “But I need to get a few practices in and see where I’m at.”

Franzen practiced Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena with teammates that weren’t participating at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

After missing 16 straight games due to a concussion he returned for one game before going back to the sidelines for the final six games before the Olympic break.

“I’ve been able to work out fine, it’s when I’m getting into a lot of movement, (and there’s) a lot of stuff going on around me like what’s going on the ice and that’s when it’s triggered. (That) makes it hard for them to tell. Even if I felt good the last two weeks without doing anything that doesn’t mean anything. I’ve got to get a few practices in to see how I really feel.”

Franzen said nothing happened in the game against Florida on Jan. 26 to have triggered the symptoms.

“Probably just playing (made it happen),” Franzen said. “(I) woke up with migraines and stuff like that. (I) took a step back again.”

The Wings return to action Wednesday at Montreal.

“Definitely,” Franzen said when asked if he plans to return against the Canadiens. “If everything goes smoothly, yeah, I’m planning to be there.”

But Franzen’s growing concern is this is becoming a reoccurring thing.

“It’s always going to be in the back of my head that it might come back because it did the last time,” Franzen said. “(I’ll) just got to go out there and try and see what happens.”

Franzen, who was named to Team Sweden, had to withdraw from the Olympics due to the concussion. Gustav Nyquist replaced him on the roster.

Franzen has nine goals and 14 assists this season in 31 games.

Nyquist making a strong push to be added to Team Sweden with fifth goal in six games

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist has plans of being someplace warm when the Olympic break comes around.

But he is willing to change them.

With Johan Franzen withdrawing from Team Sweden on Thursday because of issues with a concussion, Nyquist’s name will now be bantered about as a possible replacement for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

“It’s not something where if you have travel plans, a trip booked or something like that, you wouldn’t be too sad to leave that behind and go to the Olympics,” Nyquist said after the team’s morning skate Friday at Joe Louis Arena. “I’d love to go. It would be an amazing experience. We’ll see what happens. It’s not the way you want to get a spot on the roster, see one of your teammates not be able to go. But I’d love to go.”

Nyquist is one of three players on Sweden’s reserve list, along with Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist and Washington’s Marcus Johansson.

“It’s something I had as a goal,” Nyquist said. “I knew it would be tough for sure to get a spot, but it’s something I’ve had in the back of your head. It doesn’t come around too often. All the great players are going. It would be amazing experience for sure.”

Nyquist said he hasn’t heard anything from officials on if he’ll be the replacement of not.

Five other Swedes on the Wings’ rosters – Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson and Jonas Gustavsson – will also be going.

Another spot on the roster may open depending on the status of Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, who questionable due to bruised ribs.

“That’s for management to decide,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who is the captain for Sweden. “They’ll probably make a decision soon.”

Nyquist scored a goal in his fifth in six games Friday night against the Capitals.

He’s got 10 goals and 17 assists in 29 games this season.

Franzen played one game, last Sunday, after missing the previous 16 due to concussion-like symptoms.

“The whole thing’s been a tough break for the Mule,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Mule’s a man with two young kids and you need to be healthy for that first. Life is way more important than hockey so you need to get feeling good and it’s hard to have the kind of life you want unless you’re feeling good.

“We’ve got to get this looked after and then the next step would be for him to get his hockey back,” Babcock continued. “But we’ve got to be diligent about the process we’re going through so he can be healthy.”

The Wings placed him on short-term injured reserve Tuesday.

The earliest he could return to the lineup is Monday, but that appears highly unlikely according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“It’s doubtful we’ll play him before the Olympics,” Holland said on Thursday. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to go after that.”

Wings place Johan Frazen on short-term injured reserve after post-concussion symptoms after one game back

It was one and done for Wings forward Johan Franzen.

After returning Sunday after missing 16 straight games with a concussion, Franzen is heading back to the injured reserve after suffering a setback.

“Any time it’s a head injury, we’ve been through it a number of times, they’re hard things,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Obviously, Mule thought he was ready and then found out he wasn’t. He’ll be out a few for sure, anyways, and he continues to work with doctors at U-M, they’ll figure out when he’s available.”

Since being placed in short-term injured reserve, Franzen will miss a minimum seven days.

Franzen did make the trip to Philadelphia.

“The specialist in Ann Arbor has been in constant communication with him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s got to have a lot of days of being healthy before he plays.”

The reoccurrence of concussion-like symptoms could also put his chances of participating in the Olympics in jeopardy.

Holland didn’t know if Henrik Zetterberg (back) or Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body) would be available for Friday’s home game against the Washington Capitals.

“They’re day-to-day,” Holland said.

Along with putting Franzen on short-term injured reserve, the Wings also activated Joakim Andersson, who has missed the last six games with a sore hip flexor.

“I just think he’s a good player in the offensive zone, makes good passes,” Babcock said.

Andersson has seven goals and six assists, but it’s his minus-8 in the plus/minus category that’s worrisome.

“I don’t think we thought about him struggling last year, even evaluated him because he was a first year player and then he had such a good playoff and good second half for us in a short season that you thought things would just be easy for him,” Babcock said. “That’s not always the case. It’s important to get Andy back, he knows how to play. He’s a big body.”

Jimmy Howard will get another night off Tuesday, but will back Jonas Gustavsson in goal Tuesday.

“We’ll give Howie this week in practice and get ready to go,” Babcock said.

Howard is expected to start Friday against the Capitals.

If all goes well overnight Franzen will return to lineup Sunday; Holland wants Babcock to dress best 12 forwards

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings are about to try and do something they have yet to do this season at Joe Louis Arena: win three games in a row.

And it looks like they’ll try to do it with Johan Franzen back in the lineup.

If Franzen, who has missed the last 16 games due to a concussion, remains symptom free overnight he’ll return to the lineup against the Florida Panthers Sunday.

“Three days now that I haven’t had any issues,” Franzen said after practice Saturday. “Hopefully I wake up (Sunday) the same way.

“I thought I was going to be out five days because it wasn’t much of a hit and that’s usually how long it takes before you get rid of the headache,” Franzen continued. “It just wouldn’t go away. Just cross my fingers now and hopefully it’s going to stay away.”

Franzen skated on a line with Darren Helm and Daniel Alfredsson at practice.

In order to make room for Franzen on the 23-man roster, the Wings placed Mikael Samuelsson on waivers. He has until noon Sunday to clear or be claimed.

If he clears he could he could be assigned to Grand Rapids.

“I told Mike (Babcock) ‘dress the 12 forwards you think gives us the best chance to beat Florida,’” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “That means if one of the kids isn’t in the lineup he’ll be sent to Grand Rapids instead of Samuelsson. I don’t want the kids here if they’re not in the lineup.”

The kids – Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco – have been impressive since being recalled from the Griffins.

“It’s great, I like the competition,” Babcock said. “The National Hockey League is about the best guys get to play and they get to play the most. These kids have come up and played hard and they’ve extended a challenge, so that’s a good thing.”

Neither Sheahan, Glendening nor Jurco will have to clear waivers in order to be sent back to Grand Rapids.

“They’re either in the top 12 or they’re in Grand Rapids,” Holland said.

Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton will have to clear waivers again if the Wings decide to send them back to the Griffins.

Sending Samuelsson to Grand Rapids only clears $100,000 off the salary cap because he signed at age 35, but it does open a valuable roster spot.

“These kids have played pretty well, we got good competition,” Holland said. “And now we’re starting to get healthy. We’ve got tough decisions. We’ll make them as we go.”

From the looks of practice, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary could be healthy scratches Sunday.

“(Drew Miller) does what he does, he plays hard,” Babcock said. “Him and Glennie and Patty Eaves have been really good the last couple nights. Glennie is a guy who really competes and Millsie really skates and those guys have made it hard on the opposition.”

Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body), Joakim Andersson (lower-body) and Jimmy Howard (knee) won’t play Sunday.

Holland expects Andersson and Howard back either Tuesday on the road in Philadelphia or Friday at home against Washington.

Datsyuk, who will miss his 10th consecutive game on Sunday, would like to play in a few games before the Olympics.

“At the beginning I’m thinking I’ll miss just one game but I can’t start playing,” Datsyuk said. “I (didn’t) think it’s so serious but it’s (kept) me out a few weeks. I have two weeks, (we’ll try) everything to help.”

With a win Sunday the Wings finish their longest homestand of the season at 4-1-0.

“We know how hard it is to win,” Babcock said. “Every opponent is hard for us. Florida has been difficult for us. They’re a big team that really skates and so we’ll have to be ultra-prepared.”

Detroit is 1-1-1 this season against the Panthers.

“It would be huge to get Mule back, he’s a big part of this team,” Helm said. “He has a pretty deadly shot, he’s a threat anytime he has the puck on his stick and that causes a lot of problems. Guys will be excited he’s back. There will be extra energy in the room, like there was when (Jonathan Ericsson) and Alfie came back. Hopefully he gets cleared and will be ready to go. I look forward to playing with him if I get that opportunity.”

Henrik Zetterberg was given the day off from practice.

“We decided before this stretch, because we played every second day, I’ve given them lots of maintenance days just because of the grind,” Babcock said. “We’ll get back to more of a normal schedule once we’re through.”