DETROIT – Quick update from Wings practice before they head out to a game Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Danny DeKeyser appears to be ready to return to the lineup after missing the last 15 games with an injured shoulder.
“I feel good,” DeKeyser said after practice. “I should be good to go. I’m excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve played, a little over a month, but it seems longer than that so I’m just ready to get back at it.”
DeKeyser has two goals and seven assists in 22 games this season.
“I’ve just got to get up to game speed,” DeKeyser said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve played so I’m going to do my best to play as well as I was playing when I got hurt so that’s what I’m going to try to do. Sitting around all the time makes it seem longer than a month that I’ve been out.”
All of the Wings’ injured players skated Friday, expect for Jimmy Howard (knee) and Johan Franzen (concussion).
“Dekeyser’s available tomorrow, we’ll see at the morning skate,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I mean I had 17 forwards on the ice the biggest group I’ve ever had since I’ve been here by far. That’s good and the other thing that’s important is you need competition for jobs. To be a real good team you need competition for jobs and then you got to get guys to embrace the internal competition that makes you a better player.”
As it looked in practice, Darren Helm (shoulder) appeared as if he was playing, skating on a line with Riley Sheahan and Daniel Alfredsson, but he said afterwards he didn’t think he was in.
“I’ve got no idea,” Babcock said when asked about the lineup he would go with against the Leafs. “The general manager and I will sit together on the plane after we talk to the medical people and we’ll do the math.”
Henrik Zetterberg (back) won’t play and if things remained the same from practice, Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Jakub Kindl will be healthy scratches.
However, Tootoo could remain in the lineup for Helm if he doesn’t go.
Gustav Nyquist (groin) skated for the first time since injuring his groin against Tampa Bay.
Jonas Gustavsson will indeed start in goal to face his former team.
“It’s exciting,” said Gustavsson, who spent three seasons in Toronto before signing with Detroit. “I know a lot of people there. It’s going to be fun to go back there.
“I spent my first few years over here, so it was a lot of learning,” Gustavsson continued. “Obviously, we didn’t make the playoffs. That was a disappointment. For myself, right away I got a chance to play a lot of games, get some experience. That was really good for me. I had some good stretches and not so good stretches. It was a learning period for me.”
Gustavsson is 9-3-2 this season with the Wings.
“He’s been really good for us, he’s had very few off nights or average nights to say the least,” Babcock said. “He’s been real competitive. His save percentage is good, he’s gotten confidence, he gives our team confidence, he’s done an excellent job for us so we’re thrilled with what he’s done and we’re not scared of Petr (Mrazek) one bit either but Gus has earned the right to play.”
He’s never faces a former team at any level of his playing career.
“He’s played very well for us, say what you want, but he’s been great,” Daniel Cleary said. “Even last night he made some big stops for us to keep the game tied. Good for him. He’s battled a lot of different things the last couple of years. It’ll be good. When you go play your old team you want to play well.”