Alfredsson close to returning; Franzen has first non-foggy day; Wings set to face Canadiens

DETROIT – Quick update from Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena.

Today was a very optional skate with just a handful of guys taking part.

“We play every second day obviously and so we talked about this quite a few games ago, this is how we’re going to handle ourselves right through until we have a day off coming up,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Just make sure everyone’s ready to go. I didn’t come in here and evaluate yet. If you’re 23 and under and you weren’t on the ice I probably said something but the bottom line is we’ve got to be ready to play tomorrow.”

Detroit hosts Montreal on Friday.

Of the injured players, Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk took part in the practice.

Babcock won’t know if any of them will be ready to play Friday, but it appears highly unlikely.

“I don’t know he hasn’t done any negotiating with me,” Babcock said when asked about Alfredsson’s status. “I haven’t heard anything about it so we’ll see.

“We’ll talk to tomorrow after we skate,” Babcock continued. “It’s like anything, once you skate and you come back the next day sometimes that’s a little bit different so there’s no sense me making decisions I don’t need to make.”

Alfredsson, who has missed the last six games with lower-back inflammation, seemed very encouraged after the practice.

“Physically, I’m fine,” Alfredsson said. “I didn’t skate for 10 days at least, but I’ve had three good sessions here in a row and no setbacks. So that’s great. I’m feeling confident about coming back soon and I’ll have a discussion and we’ll come to a plan with what we’re going to do.”

Franzen also had an encouraging day.

“I’m just happy to not feel like I’m in the fog anymore,” Franzen said. “Like this is the first day. Hopefully it continues to go that way.”

Franzen has missed the last 15 games with a concussion.

“I need to talk to the medical staff and see what they think,” Franzen said. “I’ve had my better periods. I felt pretty good when we went to the West Coast, but then when I got back it felt worse than it ever did.”

Joakim Andersson (lower body), Cory Emmerton (finger) and Stephen Weiss (sports hernia) did not take part in practice with the team.

The Wings face a Canadiens team that’s just five points ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings.

“They’re a quick team and have some high end talent,” Babcock said. “They’re goaltending’s outstanding so it’s going to be a handful. I think we’re (five) points behind them if I’m not mistaking and we play them (four) times so these are important games for us. We’re going to have to compete real hard. Obviously we’re a team that doesn’t score great right now so we got to really compete defensively and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

The teams last met on Jan. 25, 2012 in Montreal with the Canadiens thumping the Wings, 7-2.

“It’s an historic franchise going back to a lot of years,” Alfredsson said. “I think in Montreal hockey is the sport, it’s followed by pretty much everybody in the city and everybody knows everything about the team, pretty much. It’s probably the favorite building to go to, to play a road game because of the atmosphere. I think because of their history it’s always a game you get up for.”

Detroit won the last meeting at Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 10, 2010, 4-2.

“The rivalry between the (Toronto Maple) Leafs and the Canadiens was always a big one for me and I always enjoyed watching those games,” Riley Sheahan said. “Montreal was one of those teams where I always hoped the Leafs would come out on top, so it’s going to be a good game. They have lots of skill and it will cross over into our game and it will be a good one.”


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