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Red Wings captain Zetterberg ready to return Saturday

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 4:10 PM NHL.com

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg told reporters he expects to be back in the lineup when his team faces the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Zetterberg has been out since Dec. 1 due to a herniated disc in his back.

"Good and ready to play [Saturday]," Zetterberg told reporters after practice Friday. "If nothing happens from now until 7 (p.m. Saturday) I will be in. It's kind of been the same for a week, I guess. The good thing is I've been doing more and more stuff and it hasn't gotten worse. It's time to play again.

"It's been tough. Sometimes it's been really good and sometimes it hasn't been that good. But that's how it is sometimes."

Despite missing the past 11 games he leads the team in scoring with 30 points in 28 games.

The Red Wings are 3-6-2 in Zetterberg's absence and scored 20 non-shootout goals in the 11 games (1.81 goals per game).

"We missed him," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It's been a long time. How many games has he missed? Lots. I just know we need him back. I just know we have 19 games to the Olympic break and we need some traction.

"We need traction in our work ethic, in our preparation, in our consistency, in our specialty teams, in our injury situation. We just flat out need traction."

Zetterberg skated at practice Friday on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Alfredsson.

Abdelkader, who hasn't played since sustaining a concussion Dec. 14 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, also could return Saturday.

"Abdelkader's another guy too that I think might be available," Babcock said. "We'll know more after the morning skate."

Goalie Jimmy Howard also practiced Friday and said he's targeting a return Monday against the Nashville Predators. Howard hasn't played since spraining his knee during a game Dec. 10 against the Florida Panthers.

"I'm still hoping to play in Nashville," said Howard, who will miss his eighth straight game Saturday. "That's been the goal here all along and I don't think anything's changed. The first real test was [Friday] with a full practice and it felt pretty good out there.

"I think I need a couple more practices. It's still a little stiff for not using it for so long. That's going to happen with any injury. I just need to get the mobility back."

While there's good news for a few injured Red Wings players, forward Johan Franzen won't be back for a while.

Franzen has been sidelined with a concussion sustained in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 15. He skated by himself after practice Friday and although Franzen said he can work out without any problems and is sleeping OK, he still has symptoms after skating.

"It's not quite there yet," Franzen said. "I still get dizzy and headaches. It's motion triggered. I can get through workouts fine, but if I try and play keepaway I can't do that. If there's too much going on I get dizzy, my vision gets blurry and stuff like that.

"I tried before the [holiday] break. I played a little 3-on-3 and that didn't feel that good. All I can do is skate straight lines. Lots of starts and stops, that's pretty much what I can do. The good thing is I can get through hard workouts at least."

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