DETROIT – The list of injuries continues to grow inside the Detroit Red Wings locker room where it now sits at seven regulars sidelined – Henrik Zetterberg (back), Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms), Justin Abdelkader (concussion-like symptoms), Jimmy Howard (knee), Darren Helm (shoulder), Danny DeKeyser (shoulder) and Stephen Weiss (groin).
“We need to make sure when they all come back that our team is totally healthy,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Monday. “We need them for the second half. Injuries are a part of it. Teams have injuries at this time of the year.”
Here’s the latest on the injured players from Holland.
Zetterberg: “He’s feeling better every day. He’s skating on his own. We’re still shooting for him on Dec. 28. I think we’re on track. Barring any setback I think we’ll have him back on Dec. 28.”
Franzen and Abdelkader: “They’re both under concussion protocol. Anytime you get a hit to the head and get taken off the ice and don’t return, basically now there’s a protocol. Abby rode the bike today, he felt pretty good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Franzen was at the rink today. He’s probably a couple days behind. I would say at the very best we can hope for either of those guys is maybe Saturday in Toronto at the very earliest.”
Howard: “He worked out today and felt better. I’d say we’re very pleased with where he’s at. He’s definitely out ’til Christmas. We’ll know more later after this week, but we’re hoping he’s back shortly after the Christmas break.
Helm: “He skated a little bit on his own today and he’s going to skate a little bit with the team tomorrow. We’re hoping if all goes well he can play sometime this week before the Christmas break.”
DeKeyser: “He skated today. I know we’re still shooting for Dec. 28. I don’t think we’re going to play him before, but I’ll know more in the next couple of days. We may get him back earlier, but at the end of the day there’s no reason to rush anyone back. There’s half a season to go. We took Weiss out for a groin, thought he was healthy and now we don’t know if it’s the same issue that’s re-aggravated and it’s worse because we didn’t diagnosis it well.”
Weiss: “We’re not really sure where he’s at. He doesn’t appear to have any significant improvement over the course of the week which is a concern. We’re going to send his MRI to abdominal doctors to look at to see there’s something more than just a groin strain.”
The Wings lost a number of players last season to injury, but were able to keep most of their corps together unlike this season.
“We had a lot of injuries last year, but for the most part our core played most of the games,” Holland said. “This year’s injuries appear to be more to the core of our team. It’s a challenge right now. We have to find a way to win a game. We banked away some points earlier in the year.
“We’ve lost a lot of games in extra time so we’ve got a point,” Holland continued. “Other teams have injuries too. We’re happy about a lot of things.”
The injuries have also put a dent in the Wings’ offense, scoring a total of five goals over their last five games.
“The biggest thing is we’re creating scoring chances, we’re just not scoring,” Holland said. “We have to go to the hard areas. We have to keep going to the net and play good defensively. We need to be good on the penalty kill. We need to keep the goals against to two or lower. We have to find a way to grind out a win and then grind out a win the next night.”