DETROIT – Following his third straight day of practice, veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson all but declared himself ready to return to the Red Wings’ lineup in time to face his all-time nemesis.
“Physically, I’m fine. I didn’t skate for 10 days at least but I’ve had three good sessions here in a row and no setbacks,” said Alfredsson, who has missed the last six games with back spasms. “I’m feeling confident about coming back soon … I’ll have a discussion and we’ll come to a plan with what we’re going to do.”
The Red Wings host an old Original Six rival Friday when the Montreal Canadiens visit Joe Louis Arena for the first time as new Atlantic Division constituents. Actually, it’s been more than three years since the Habs last played in Detroit.
From a personal standpoint, the Habs are probably the one team in the league that Alfredsson wishes were on his scheduled every week. The 41-year-old Swede has produced 31 goals and 105 points in 89 career games against the Canadiens. He is one of only three active players to amass 100 career points against an NHL opponent, joining Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne.
“We played each other quite a bit and I’ve had some success against them,” Alfredsson said. “I don’t know if it’s as much the last few years but I don’t know if there’s anything you can put a finger on.”
Alfredsson is among a handful of Red Wings who have been bitten lately by the injury bug. At one point last week, Detroit was faced with playing without its top seven scoring forwards. Still, the Wings will likely be without a few it their stars when they host the Montreal Canadiens Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Centers Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Joakim Andersson (lower body) and forward Johan Franzen (concussion) are day to day. Center Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) is out until after the Olympic break.
If Alfredsson returns it will give the Wings another veteran body to go with a much-needed boost they received from their uplifting 5-4 shootout victory over Chicago on Wednesday.
“We have to have all hands on deck and we really gotta compete hard,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Normally the score can’t be over two or we have no chance to win just because we don’t score. So last night was a good game in that way. It was fun to play Chicago. You know to be honest with you I don’t care how we won, we just won and that’s what we needed to do but our guys competed hard so when you compete hard you get a chance to feel good about yourself.”
Alfredsson ranks third in team scoring, producing 11 goals and 30 points in 38 games in his first season with the Red Wings but Babcock wasn’t sure if the veteran forward would be inserted in Friday’s lineup.
“We’ll talk to him tomorrow after we skate,” Babcock said. “It’s like anything, once you skate and you come back the next day sometimes that’s a little bit of a difference. So there’s no sense me making decisions I don’t need to make.”
Meanwhile, Franzen, who’s been battling bouts of post-concussion symptom since he was hit in the head by Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas, said today was the first time since the Dec. 15 incident that he hasn’t felt the least bit foggy.
“Need to talk to the medical staff and see what they think,” Franzen said. “I’m just happy to not feel like I’m in the fog anymore. Like this is the first day.
“Hopefully it continues to go that way.”
Franzen and Datsyuk are not expected to play Friday. Both will be evaluated with an eye on possibly returning next week.
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