DETROIT — Quick update from the Wings outdoor practice at Comerica Park.
Justin Abdelkader returned to the ice for the first time since taking an elbow to the jaw by Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engellandand on Saturday.
“I feel good so far, no contact yet,” Abdelkader said afterwards. “I’m working my way back. It’s a process. We’ll see as long as I have no setbacks we’ll keep building it each day.
“He caught me with a shoulder,” Abdelkader continued. “I don’t think he was trying to hit me in the head at all. He was just trying to take the body there and got me in the head. It’s an unfortunate play. The league has done a good job of cutting down on those hits. They review them all. If it’s suspendable they’ll suspend him. Let the league take care of that. Hopefully we’ll take as many of those hits out of the game. That’s what they’re trying to do.”
Abdelkader has experienced concussion-like symptoms and is going through the NHL protocol before returning.
“Not really,” Abdelkader said when asked if he has a target date of when he’ll return. “I need to talk to Piet (Van Zant). Hopefully soon, maybe before break, not ruling that out as long as there are no setbacks.”
The Wings have three more games before the NHL mandatory three-day shutdown for Christmas.
“The first day or two I still had some lingering headaches,” Abdelkader said. “Everything’s been feeling good so far. Hopefully I’ll just keep getting better and have no setbacks.”
The Wings were still missing a number of injured players at practice — Gustav Nyquist (groin), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms), Jimmy Howard (knee), and Stephen Weiss (groin).
Also missing to Daniel Alfredsson.
“That’s what happens when you’re 41 or 42, you get some days off,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Darren Helm (shoulder) and Danny DeKeyser (shoudler) both took part in practice.
With the Wings slumping of late, going 0-4-2 in their last six, Babcock had thought about cancelling this outdoor activity.
“When you plan it initially it’s just part of your team building process you go through with your team,” Babcock said. “We’re having a family thing here after for guys that want to use it. After last night’s game I was going to cancel it to be honest with you because we had fans coming we didn’t. It’s always good not to react to those situations. It was good, we had a good practice, a good meeting, we have to get things right.”
The Wings, who lost 5-2 to Anaheim on Tuesday, host Calgary on Thursday.
“You try to do enough team building throughout the year to change things up to break up the monotony,” Babcock said. “It’s always fun to be outside. It’s something special. When I walked out a Wrigley (Field) that’s what it felt like walking out there today.”