DETROIT -- The "Perfect Human" might finally get back into a game for the Detroit Red Wings, who've missed their captain Nicklas Lidstrom greatly for the past 11 contests.
The 41-year-old Lidstrom, who's missed a career-high 11 straight games with a deep bone bruise in his ankle, took part in Detroit's optional morning skate at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. Afterward, he told reporters that he will be a game-time decision when the Red Wings take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lidstrom will take part in the pre-game warmup and then a team decision will be made.
"It slowly has been getting better," said Lidstrom, who initally made a West Coast trip 10 days ago but was sent home to rest when he couldn't skate. "I think today is better than [Friday], so that's a good sign it's going in the right direction. They want to make sure I have no soreness going on the ice twice in one day."
If Lidstrom plays, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said rookie defenseman Brendan Smith will be a healthy scratch to make room. Smith, however, is on notice that he could get the start if Lidstrom can't go.
"It's a big difference from when I was out in California and went home from the trip," Lidstrom said. "It feels a lot better than about a week ago."
As for who will make the final call on Saturday night to him playing or not, Lidstrom, said it will be a group decision between himself, doctors and athletic trainer Piet Van Zant. If it were solely up to him?
"Oh, I wanted to play four weeks ago," Lidstrom said. "I didn't want to miss any games. I thought it was going to be shorter. I wanted to play as soon as possible, but it just hasn't been able to do that."
If he does play, the biggest challenges will likely be how the ankle holds up once the tempo of the game increases past he levels that exist in practices and how good Lidstrom's conditioning is after sitting out for so long.
"I've been working hard off the ice, but it's not the same as skating," Lidstrom said. "That'll be some adjustment time, too. I've been skating the last couple of days, but again, when you're in games, it's gonna be different."
In other Detroit injury news, goalie Jimmy Howard (groin) progressed to taking some shots at the skate and is hopeful to return soon, while defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (fractured wrist) is hoping to be ready for the game Monday against Columbus.
Defenseman Jakub Kindl (oblique strain) is going to make his return to the ice Saturday night against the Hurricanes, while forward Johan Franzen (back spasms) skated for the second day in a row and said his conditioning was the biggest issue.
The Hurricanes did not skate after losing 5-1 at Columbus on Friday night. Here is a look at how Carolina and Detroit are expected to line up on Saturday night:
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Pat Dwyer - Brandon Sutter - Drayson Bowman
Derek Joslin - Time Brent - Anthony Stewart
Bryan Allen - Tim Gleason
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Injuries: Jarslav Spacek (back), Andreas Nodl (concussion symptoms)
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Todd Bertuzzi - Pavel Datsyuk - Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller - Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary
Tomas Holmstom - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Kyle Quincey - Ian White
Brendan Smith/Nicklas Lidstrom - Jakub Kindl
Injuries: Nicklas Lidstrom (gametime decision/ankle), Jimmy Howard (out/groin), Johan Franzen (out/back spasms), Darren Helm (out/knee sprain), Joey MacDonald (out/back), Jonathan Ericsson (out/wrist), Patrick Eaves (IR/concussion)