DETROIT – Many of the Wings’ injured players are seeing light at the end of the tunnel for when they’ll be able to return to the lineup.
Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Patrick Eaves (sprained MCL and ankle) both missed the start of the season and can’t wait to get cleared to return.
“I’ve been skating for five or six days now and I’ve been feeling great,” Gustavsson said. “Now I feel like I’m going 100 percent, so it’s just a matter of days before I’m in the lineup.”
Gustavsson suffered his groin injury in a preseason game on Sept. 21 in a preseason game against the Boston Bruins. It was his only appearance in the preseason.
“It’s just a matter of getting your timing back,” Gustavsson said. “It’s just a matter of getting a few practices in before I’m ready to go.”
Gustavsson, who is on short-term injured reserve, has been sharing time in goal with Petr Mrazek at practice.
“The last few days on the ice I haven’t felt any soreness and I’ve been pushing it 100 percent,” Gustavsson said.
Gustavsson pulled his groin after playing only 19 minutes of relief of Jimmy Howard, who will start his fourth game this season tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, in the season opener last year.
He appeared in just seven of the 48 games during the lockout-shortened year last season, making just four starts.
Gustavsson, 28, didn’t play over the final 27 games of the season, which included the playoffs.
Eaves has a target date of Oct. 26 against the New York Rangers, which is Detroit’s 12th game of the season.
That’s the earliest he could return after being placed on long-term injured reserve, which meant he must sit a minimum of 10 games, would be Oct. 23 against the Ottawa Senators.
“I have a little bit (of pain), still,” Eaves said. “But I’ve got some time here to get rid of that and be back and be ready. “I’ll be ready when I come off IR for sure.”
Eaves suffered the injury to his left knee and left ankle after a collision on Sept. 21 with Jeff Hoggan in practice.
“(It was) a little bad luck there but it is what it is,” Eaves said about the collision. “I was just standing in front of the net tipping the puck and two guys were battling behind him and one guy laid on my leg. I didn’t even see it. I just felt him. My leg was pinned underneath me, I couldn’t get him off me.”
Eaves was sidelined nearly 14 months after suffering a concussion and broken jaw on Nov. 26, 2011.
Jordin Tootoo (shoulder) is also cleared to return.
Darren Helm (back/groin) continues to practice with the team, but has yet to be cleared for contact.