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Wings get Howard back, but Lidstrom still ailing

by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Detroit Red Wings will get one of their walking wounded back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to return in net when Detroit plays at Los Angeles.

Howard has missed three games with a groin injury suffered on March 4. Joey MacDonald went 1-2 in his absence, including a 4-3 win against Los Angeles last Friday.

"Joe has been great when he's been in the net, but of course we want Howie back," Johan Franzen said.

Todd Bertuzzi has a sore groin and is expected to return Wednesday at Anaheim. Pavel Datsyuk also skated Tuesday but remains day-to-day in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb.21.

"We're going to see Pavel on this trip," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "When he's ready, he'll let us know."

Lidstrom update: Nicklas Lidstrom reported little progress in his recovery from a bone bruise in his ankle, and Babcock said he probably won't play on this road trip.

Lidstrom skated on his own again, but is able to only do laps with no abrupt starts and stops.

"I still have pain in the ankle, so it's not good stopping or turning or doing any quick starts and stops," Lidstrom said. "I just want to be out there and kind of get a feel of getting the groins going and kind of doing some laps and being on the ice again."

Lidstrom couldn't put a timetable on a possible return.

"I didn't think it was going to take this long," he said. "It's been somewhat frustrating I haven't been able to come back earlier, but the trainers want me to make sure I don't re-aggravate it again and be out for another couple of weeks."

Remarkably, Lidstrom has never missed this many consecutive games (seven) in his 20-year career, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"(The accomplishment) feels good but it's still frustrating when you're not able to play," he said. "After a while you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys play. You want to be part of it. You want to be on the ice and be part of the team again."

Line shakeup?: Babcock appeared to mix up his second and third lines in the morning skate.

Franzen centered Gustav Nyquist and Danny Cleary on the second line, while Darren Helm centered Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader on the third line.

"I did it in the pre-game skate today, so we'll see what happens," Babcock said. "Basically I'm trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does. I want energy. I think him, Abby and Millsy might be able to give me that. I haven't decided 100 percent for sure. Game-time decision."

The Franzen line offers size, but Babcock said they have to change their approach against L.A.

"To me, we've been a bit of a rush team and not much a grind team," Babcock said. "L.A., the last time we played them, got the game on the walls and ground us. That's why we weren't on the inside and we weren't at their net enough to play in their zone. It's got to be different here today. We can't expect to be successful doing that."

Franzen has played pivot in his career but hasn’t done it much this season.

"That's where I feel most comfortable -- at the center position," Franzen said. "But I might be a little rusty. It's been a while since I've played center, but hopefully after a few shifts I'm back into it."

Power-play issues:
Detroit is 0-for-20 on the power play over the past five games and 3-for-41 in its last 11 games.

Babcock said the Wings have to take a "real simplified approach, much like we would do at training camp. Normally you do it four or five times a year. But this is an ongoing thing for us. I think it's in our head more than anything. The way to get out of it is to simplify and shoot the puck, and we'll get one and get on a roll."
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