Alfredsson in for Bertuzzi against Canadiens; Howard and Andersson back soon

DETROIT >> Quick update from the Detroit Red Wings’ morning skate prior to their game tonight at Joe Louis Arena against the Montreal Canadiens.

Daniel Alfredsson will return to the lineup tonight, skating on a line with Darren Helm and Daniel Cleary.

“He’s playing tonight so that’s good for us, good to have him back,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We just have to keep him healthy.”

Alfredsson has missed the last six games with lower-back inflammation.

“It feels great I mean it’s always frustrating to be out and now be able to skate like I have and have no issues it feels great actually,” Alfredsson said after practice. “You work yourself in, definitely keep it simple and short shifts to get into it. You can skate as much as you want in practice but it’s a different pace in game, more physical as well so trying not to get caught out there too long is definitely going to help.”

Alfredsson has 31 goals and 74 assists in 89 games played against Montreal in his career.

“He’s a smart player, knows how to play,” Babcock said. “Helmer’s line struggled last game, so this gives him a chance.”

Alfredsson replaces Todd Bertuzzi in the lineup.

“Why don’t we just talk about the guys that are playing,” Babcock said when asked what he needs to see more out of Bertuzzi.

That’s the only lineup change from Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Every player, injured and healthy, took the morning skate.

“To be honest with you it’s way too many players out there for a pre-game skate,” Babcock said. “The goalie’s dying. It’s good to have guys coming back now they have to push to get their jobs back.”

Jimmy Howard (knee) skated for a second day.

“This was the plan we’ve had in place, just progress every day,” Howard said. “Today, it was going down in the butterfly, but in a controlled atmosphere out there and it felt pretty good.”

Howard, who injured his knee in the first period Monday against St. Louis, hopes to return Tuesday in Philadelphia.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Howard said. “It felt good going down in a controlled setting so it’s do more treatment, workout again tonight and see how it feels in the morning. We knew it wasn’t as serious as it was before. It’s good that it’s coming back this quickly.”

Joakim Andersson (lower-body) also skated and hopes to return Sunday at home against Florida.

“I’ll have a full skate (Saturday), so I hope Sunday, but I don’t know when they’ll put me in again. It’s getting better every day since New York.”

Andersson still would not reveal his injury, but did say it’s the first time he’s suffered it.


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