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Red Wings get Ericsson back against Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

DETROIT -- They're still dealing with a glut of injuries, but the Detroit Red Wings are slowly starting to get some players back into their lineup.

The latest is top-pair defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who will play Wednesday night against the rival Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Ericsson, who's missed two 10-game stints for separate injuries, said he's "good to go," now that a broken rib that sidelined him since late December is healed enough to play.

"It’s been [feeling] good, I just knew it was going to take some time," Ericsson said. "I know it was something that wasn’t going to get better overnight, so I’ve been patient about it, I’ve been trying to stay positive and all that. ... I think the healing process has been faster maybe than they thought, so that’s good."

Ericsson said he didn't rush his return just to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (32-8-11), who ousted Detroit in a memorable Western Conference Semifinals series that lasted into overtime of Game 7.

"Not really, for me right now it’s a matter of coming back and [trying] to help the team as best as I can, but also getting in shape as fast as possible, game shape," he said. "It’s going to take a few games probably, but we need all the bodies we can get back here and hopefully we can get back on track."

The Red Wings are also healing from a slew of nagging groin injuries. Jonas Gustavsson, who came off injured reserve Tuesday with Ericsson, will start in net against Chicago and Darren Helm will center the third line for the second straight game following a seven-game injury stint.

Detroit is still without top-six forwards Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (concussion), Daniel Alfredsson (back) and Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery).

The Blackhawks are healthy and looking to keep their recent momentum rolling after a big weekend at United Center, when they beat the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins.

Despite Detroit's injury situation, the visitors from the Windy City aren't expecting anything less than a heated rivalry game.

"It certainly is [strong]" Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the Original Six rivalry. "The way that playoff series went and the history, with the number of years and the battles between the two teams since they existed ... I still think it will be instantly recaptured, that intensity."

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks, who are starting a back-to-back set before playing at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Red Wings:


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Michal Handzus - Kris Versteeg

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michael Kostka

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank

Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (rotator cuff surgery)


Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Jurco - Riley Sheahan - Todd Bertuzzi

Tomas Tatar - Darren Helm - Drew Miller

Patrick Eaves - Luke Glendening - Daniel Cleary

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brian Lashoff - Brendan Smith

Jonas Gustavsson

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Mikael Samuelsson

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (concussion), Daniel Alfredsson (back), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery), Cory Emmerton (finger), Joakim Andersson (lower body)

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