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At the Rink blog

Zetterberg, Abdelkader back in Red Wings lineup

Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Zetterberg, Abdelkader back in Red Wings lineup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Just like the Detroit Red Wings' first visit to BB&T Center on Dec. 10, they will have one of their star players back in the lineup Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Center Henrik Zetterberg will be in action for the first time since Dec. 1 after missing 11 games because of a back injury.

"I'm glad to be back playing," Zetterberg said. "It's been a while. Just to come back and play with the boys, it's going to be fun."

The Red Wings also are expected to have forward Justin Abdelkader back after he missed five games because of a concussion.

Center Pavel Datsyuk returned after missing seven games when the Red Wings faced the Panthers 18 days ago and had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 shootout loss.

Despite a long absence, Zetterberg leads the Red Wings in scoring with 30 points in 28 games.

"Obviously it's great to have him back; now we've got to get him playing," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Being back and playing is a totally different thing. It takes time. If you're Z, you've been out 11 games, so we've got to keep his shifts short."

Even with Zetterberg and Abdelkader back, the Red Wings still have a long injury list. The latest addition is defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who was placed on injured reserve Friday with a rib injury sustained in a 3-0 loss against the New York Islanders on Monday.

"It's going to be nice when everyone is healthy," Zetterberg said. "We've basically had one game this year with our starting lineup. But you'd rather have it before Christmas than after Christmas."

Jonas Gustavsson will be in goal for Detroit. He will face veteran Scott Clemmensen, a surprise starter for Florida considering Tim Thomas was activated off injured reserve this week.

Thomas is expected to start Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens in the second half of a back-to-back.

"It's just an extra day, extra time to make sure," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said. "He could play, but we're just giving him the extra day to make sure that everything is good.

"You've just got to look in the long term rather than the short term and you just continue to do what you think is right for down the road. Giving him the extra time will be beneficial to him."

The Panthers will face Detroit without forward Scottie Upshall, who sustained an upper-body injury in a 6-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Horachek said he expected Upshall and defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who underwent orbital bone surgery Monday, to be out of the lineup a few weeks.

With Upshall out, the Panthers recalled forward Drew Shore from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.

Shore appeared in two games for the Panthers this season before being sent down to the AHL. He had 13 points in 43 games for Florida last season.

"He's spent some time up here last year and did a pretty good job," Horachek said. "He bypassed the minors, which is what you really need to do if you're really going to develop properly and learn how to be a good pro and learn how to do things the right way. He's gone back down and spent some time, so I think he's more ready now than he was last year."

Here are the projected lineups:

RED WINGS

Todd Bertuzzi - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Jurco

Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary - Luke Glendening - Gustav Nyquist

Niklas Kronwall - Brendan Smith

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Jakub Kindl - Brian Lashoff

Jonas Gustavsson

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Mikael Samuelsson

Injured: Darren Helm (groin/shoulder), Stephen Weiss (groin/hernia), Johan Franzen (concussion), Jimmy Howard (knee), Jonathan Ericsson (ribs)

Babcock said he split up the defensive pairing of Smith and Quincey because of their recent struggles.

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Tomas Fleischmann

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Shawn Matthias - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Krys Barch - Drew Shore - Jimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Dylan Olsen - Alex Petrovic

Scott Clemmensen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Mike Mottau

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (lower body), Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone), Jesse Winchester (upper body)

Gomez will be a healthy scratch for the 11th time in 12 games.

Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers