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Wings? Filppula returns, Howard ill in Calgary

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY – Facing a variety of lineup changes as the Detroit Red Wings prep for the Calgary Flames, coach Mike Babcock almost overlooked the return of forward Valtteri Filppula.

“Yep. He’s in," Babcock said casually. "Oh I guess that’s another lineup thing,”

Filppula has missed the past seven games for the Red Wings after suffering a shoulder injury against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24. In his absence, Detroit has scored 10 goals and gone 3-2-2.

“We just got [Johan] Franzen back a few games ago. The difference between him and Fil [is] Fil was able to skate while he was injured, so obviously that’s a big boost for us,” Babcock said. “For [Henrik Zetterberg] to have someone to go with and Datsyuk to have someone to go with, I think that’s real important. We’ve been average offensively to say the least without those guys.”

Linemate Damien Brunner is excited to have Filppula back in the fold. The rookie center had no goals and three assists during Filppula's absence.

“He’s obviously a big guy for us and we’re happy he’s back and we hope he brings some offense in our game and scores some big goals,” he said.

Though Filppula’s back, the Red Wings will be without starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has fallen ill. Jonas Gustavsson will start in his place.

“Howard’s back at the hotel sick so Gus starts,” Babcock said.

Goaltending coach Jim Bedard strapped on the pads for the morning skate in Howard’s absence. But that doesn’t mean he’ll serve as a backup to Gustavsson.

“I don’t know what else we’d do,” Babcock said. “Jimmy B, our goaltending coach, he was good in the skate but we don’t need him on the bench tonight so Howie will go [as backup].”

Ian White also will miss the game, allowing Brian Lashoff to draw back in. Though healthy, Jordin Tootoo will be a game-time decision.

Here’s a look at Detroit’s projected lineup against Calgary:

Valtteri FilppulaHenrik ZetterbergDamien Brunner

Johan FranzenPavel DatsyukJustin Abdelkader

Gustav NyquistJoakim AnderssonDaniel Cleary

Drew MillerCory EmmertonPatrick Eaves

Jonathan EricssonNiklas Kronwall

Kyle QuinceyBrendan Smith

Jakub KindlBrian Lashoff

Jonas Gustavsson

Jimmy Howard

Scratched: Kent Huskins, Ian White, Jordin Tootoo

Injured: Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (finger), Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back)

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