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Franzen has been battling an illness for a few weeks; he hasn’t scored since Nov. 20 and it a team-worse minus-9

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

Johan Franzen (illness) and Stephen Weiss (shoulder) both took part in a full practice.

Franzen hopes to return to the lineup Friday against the New York Islanders after missing Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Weiss, who separated his shoulder on Dec. 12, is shooting to return Sunday at home against the Colorado Avalanche.

For Franzen, he’s been battling an illness for a number of weeks.

“I’ve been under the weather for three weeks or so I think my body shut down for a few days,” said Franzen, who didn’t feat he had the mumps. “I’ve just been battling flus, stomach flus, regular flus, for the last few weeks. I just haven’t been able to get healthy.

“Beginning of this week I just felt really, really awful, like no energy, nothing,” Franzen added. “I figured I needed a couple days just to get healthy. I think it’s run its course.”

Franzen said they ran tests on him Wednesday and found no mumps virus, which has hit the NHL hard this season.

“I’ve been battling stuff the last few weeks, enough was enough,” Franzen said. “I just needed to get rid of it. Sunday I got really, really sick. Tuesday I tried to skate in the morning skate and I was really shaky. I just was running on empty.”

That illness could have affected how Franzen performed on the ice.

He hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 20 and is a team-worse minus-9.

“No,” Franzen said when asked if he was frustrated he wasn’t scoring much.

“Not really, mostly in the corners, passing pucks,” Franzen added when asked if he felt he was creating chances.

Asked if it was important for him to go into the short Christmas break on a strong note Franzen said, “I hope we win the last three games. That would be nice. If we win three games I’m happy, it’s a good Christmas gift.”

Franzen has never finished a season with a minus.

“We need him playing hard,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Everybody on the team, if your work doesn’t come before your skill you got no chance to be any good, period. So if you’re not a worker, no chance in today’s NHL, period. That’s why you look through it and see the teams. You’ve got to skate and you’ve got to work and if you can’t you’ve got to have people around you that flat-out can. But you can only have one guy per line max that doesn’t really haul.”

Howard in the midst of career season with Wings … except when it comes to shootouts

DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is in the midst of his best season in the NHL.

Let’s just not talk about his performances in the shootouts, where he dropped to 0-6 on the season Tuesday, allowing 11 goals on 15 shots.

“We don’t have them in the playoffs,” Howard said. “That’s when it really matters.”

The regular season for Howard is a much different story.

Howard ranks fifth in goals-against average (2.05), eighth in wins (13) and shutouts (two).

“It’s been good,” Howard said when asked about his start to the season. “There have been a couple games, obviously a couple goals, I’d like to have back, but that’s going to happen to every goalie over the course of the season. As a team we’re just doing a great job finding ways to win games and I think that’s a great sign of a young team maturing.”

Howard is 13-5-7 this season.

“If you go back to his first five games his save percentage was through the roof,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Those first five games we weren’t confident and going yet and we needed him even more so I think that’s really important.

“Now his job is just kind of be good night in and night out,” Babcock continued. “Howie’s a guy that can really give us confidence the better he plays the more swagger the team has. I really thought when we were trying to find ourselves and gain confidence Howie was really good.”

Howard credits his health as being a main reason for his success early on.

“That’s the biggest thing,” said Howard, who was drafted by the Wings in 2003 (second round, 64th overall). “I put in the work in the summertime. (Good health) gives you the confidence to go out there and do your job.”

Howard, 30, recently moved into third on the all-time wins list in franchise history. In his career he has a 2.38 goal-against average, .917 save percentage and 20 shutouts.

“To be honest with you I haven’t really given it any thought,” Howard said. “That’s the farthest thing from my mind. I guess what it comes down to is I’m thankful I’ve been able to play so long here in one city.

“We battled through a lot of injuries last year to a lot of key guys,” Howard continued. “We scratched and clawed and found a way into the playoffs. We felt coming into this year, with everyone getting healthy over the summer, the younger guys getting a year older, we felt we had a good team.”

Howard is in the second year of a six-year deal he signed at close to $5.3 million a season to be the franchise goalie.

“He gives us a chance to win,” Johan Franzen said. “He’s a steady, steady guy. He shows up every night and does what we need. If we can get it done up front he’s going to give us a chance to win the game.

“He’s been good for a long time,” Franzen added. “I think he’s always been steady, but maybe he’s a little bit better this year.”

Howard is the 12th highest paid goalie in the league according to CapGeek.com. New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist is No. 1 at $11 million a season.

“You won’t hear too much from him on game days, but he’s the type of goalie that rises to the occasion,” Stephen Weiss said. “When we’re not at our best and we need him to back us up he’s been there numerous times for us.”

In each of Howard’s first two full seasons in Detroit he recorded 37 wins, becoming the only goalie in Wings history to win at least 35 games in each of his first two seasons.

Riley Sheahan: “It’s unfortunate for the guys that are getting (the mumps). We’re just trying to do things so we can’t get it.”

DETROIT >> Many of the Detroit Red Wings admittedly knew very little about the mumps virus.

They’re all learning quickly now.

The virus is spreading throughout the NHL and it just claimed its biggest name yet when Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was diagnosed over the weekend.

“It’s crazy,” Jimmy Howard said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I’m trying to stay away from any kind of sickness,” Riley Sheahan said. “I know a lot of guys are getting it so we just have to be extra cautious. It’s unfortunate for the guys that are getting it. We’re just trying to do things so we can’t get it.

“It’s kind of one of those things we don’t have anyone in the room that has it so we’ll just keep going with the flow,” Sheahan added.

The number of infected players is in double digits now spread out over five teams.

It’s also being reported that two referees have contracted the virus.

Mumps is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva from an infected person or by sharing food and drinks.

The virus can also survive on surfaces and then be spread after contact in a similar manner.

The Wings organization is in the process of making booster shots available to players and team personnel.

“I understand a lot of the European players wouldn’t have (been vaccinated) so it’s important to provide the opportunity for them and that’s what we’re going to do,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to provide it to everybody and get it looked after. In the meantime we’re encouraging everyone to do what they can for their immune system. We do that here anyway.

“Sleeping and not getting run down, that’s easy to say when you travel like we do,” continued Babcock, whose squad just finished playing five games in eight days. “The reason your immune system gets run down is because you do that stuff. Ideally this will get us refreshed and not get the mumps.”

The New York Rangers’ Derrick Brassard also was diagnosed with mumps on Sunday.

“We haven’t played anyone who recently had it, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Howard said. “Until something happens in here I’m not worried about it.”

The Rangers played at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 6.

“Oh, he does? Sweet,” Howard said when learning of Brassard’s positive test for the virus. “He was close the last time we played the Rangers. Yeah, sweet.”

Tatar: Wings need to battle hard against Florida, not like how little they battled in last meeting

DETROIT >> The Wings all know too well what kind of problems this Florida Panthers team pose.

All they have to do is look back at the last meeting this season.

The Panthers beat the Wings, 4-3, to snap Detroit’s four-game winning streak.

“They just play hard,” Johan Franzen said. “They protect the net pretty good. It was tough to get in there. We had a pretty bad start I think against them. Hopefully we can learn something from that.”

The loss to Florida was just Detroit’s first loss in regulation in the last nine games.

“I feel if we play like (Wednesday) we will beat them,” Tomas Tatar said. “They battle hard. Like the games we play against them we don’t want to battle hard. This is the NHL, things are so tight right now. You’re not good enough with just skill, you have to battle hard to help your skill. We need to want to win more than they do and we can get two points.”

The Panthers sit 11 points behind the Wings in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

Wings do move into first place in Eastern Conference

DETROIT >> The Wings will go to bed Wednesday night and wake up Thursday morning knowing the same thing.

They’re in first place overall in the Eastern Conference.

The point the Wings earned in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena, moved them a point ahead of ideal Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh for first overall in the East.

“Getting points is good when you can get them,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously we wanted two here at home, but one point is better than no points. If you look how the game ended with a 3-on-4 there for almost a minute I think we’re going to be OK with this tomorrow and move on.”

Niklas Kronwall was sent off for goalie interference with 57 seconds left in overtime.

“I thought we played good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s over with to me. We got a point. They stole two points but I’ll take it every night. If you play like that you’re going to win.”

Weiss misses practice due to a funeral; Abdelkader skates on own; Wings power play red hot

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings’ practice Friday at Joe Louis Arena.

Stephen Weiss missed practice due to a funeral he attended. He’s expected to play Saturday when the Wings host the New York Rangers.

Justin Abdelkader skated for the first time on his own since injuring his shoulder on Sunday. He’s also been sick with the flu.

The Wings worked on the power play at practice which has been red hot of late.

Since starting the season 5-for-46 with the man advantage through their first 12 games, they’ve gone 19-for-58 since.

“I think the biggest thing is we’re just throwing pucks at the net,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We know we’re going to have guys there, we have guy’s net-front that are doing a great job of screening and making it hard for their goalie. The rest of us just have to make sure the puck gets there. Of course, winning face-offs is another huge area. But throwing the puck, I think that’s the biggest key.”

Detroit has at least one power play goal in six straight games.

“I think we’ve just been sticking with it, we believed in what we did,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously the puck didn’t go in for us from the beginning. I don’t think we made that big of changes to it. One thing we did is shoot a little bit more instead of looking for passes before we shoot. We shoot and then automatically it will open up for us and we can make plays. Also, once you score your confidence goes up and you’re more confident in what you do. That helps.”

Heading into play Friday, the Wings’ power play is ranked sixth best in the league.

Abdelkader out Tuesday as Wings look to win a fifth in a row

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

Justin Abdelkader was the only player missing from practice. He injured his left shoulder in the second period of Detroit’s 5-3 win over Vancouver Sunday.

He’s out for Tuesday’s home game against the Florida Panthers and most likely out the rest of the week.

“He penalty kills, blocks shots, he plays hard on offense,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He understands you score goals by being at the net so he goes to the net. He’s an important player for us. He’s a guy that works hard every day in my opinion. He brings most every day, skates good, gets in on the forecheck so we need guys like that.”

The Wings take a season-high four-game winning streak against the Panthers.

“We’re scoring them in bunches, which I don’t think we normally do,” Brendan Smith said. “So when we do that, I think we’re pretty sound defensively. Once we put pucks in the net, we’re winning games. Other that and our power play scoring, we’re just playing well. Our leaders are playing well and we’re just following that so I think that’s why we’ve had this streak.”

Heading into play Monday Detroit was a point behind Tampa Bay and Montreal for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

“You’re always trying to get better,” Babcock said. “The object is to win the games and that’s what we’re doing. We want to be better defensively and offensively and way harder on both ends in front of both nets. We got a bunch of young guys that have a lot of growth opportunity in front of them if they really embrace it and work every day. That’s that challenge for us as a coaching staff and them as players.”