The Detroit Red Wings are preparing to welcome back top-line center Pavel Datsyuk for Saturday night's game at San Jose -- but they may be without Johan Franzen against the Sharks.
Franzen left the ice early at Friday morning's practice, complaining of low back pain as the team skated at the Sharks' training facility. His status for Saturday is uncertain.
Franzen said that he's experienced back problems in the past, but nothing quite this bad.
"I never had this before. Not like this," the team's leading goal-scorer told the Wings' website. "Can't play like this."
Franzen, center Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Niklas Kronwall are the only Wings to appear in all 71 games this season.
"When I started skating it started to spasm up and got worse and worse, tried to skate through it," Franzen said. "I had to get off, I couldn't really move.
"We're going to do some treatment tonight and get back on it tomorrow."
Datsyuk, who's recuperating from arthroscopic knee surgery and hasn't played since Feb. 19, sounded a lot more positive about being in the lineup as the Wings try to avoid being swept on their four-game road trip.
"Looking forward to playing tomorrow," he said.
Assuming he's back in the lineup, Datsyuk will have 11 games to work out any rust prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month.
"Every time is different," he told the Wings' website. "I hope so tomorrow it be back, kind of everything. But after every injury, it takes more time or less time -- it's hard to say."
Coach Mike Babcock hopes Datsyuk will be ready to go.
"He's talented and he's a hard worker," Babcock said. "I think he's the best two-way player in the game, so he's a huge part of what goes on and we haven't been very good."