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Datsyuk practices, close to returning

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk returned to practice Thursday with the Red Wings at JLA. He hopes to be back in the lineup as late as next week's trip to California. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – It was good to see Nicklas Lidstrom skate – albeit for a half a minute, or less, on his own – and Jonathan Ericsson practicing for the first time since fracturing his left wrist, though he still can’t handle the stick.

And while the Wings went on with practice without Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi, Jimmy Howard and Jakub Kindl, it was a good sign that Pavel Datsyuk was back skating with teammates and without limitation at Joe Louis Arena.

“He's going in the right direction,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Soon I think you'll see Nick back and Bert back soon too. By the end of the weekend for sure.”

The Wings won’t have Lidstrom, Bertuzzi, Howard and Kindl back in time for Friday’s home game against the Los Angeles Kings, Babcock wasn’t ready to count out any of the injured quartet for Saturday’s Central Division game at Nashville.

Though it’s a good sign that Lidstrom could finally put a skate on his right foot and step on the ice for the first time, the Wings’ captain thinks a realistic return would be on the Wings’ west coast trip next week, which begins Tuesday against the Kings at the Staples Center. He was hurt when he was struck by a shot against Colorado Feb. 25.

“It's just that pain when I push off, it hurts, that's the main thing,” Lidstrom said. “A week ago I couldn't put my skate on, it was still swollen. That's come down but it's that deep bone bruise that's hurting me.

“It's getting better, it's getting better every day. My motion is getting better, my movements, my foot's getting better so that's encouraging.”

Datsyuk, the Wings’ leading scorer, has missed the last seven games following arthroscopic surgery to clean up loose cartridge more than two weeks ago. The All-Star center had been skating on his own since last Sunday, and he too hopes to be back in the lineup sooner than later.

“Nice to comeback and skate with teammates,” Datsyuk said. “Everyday closer. That's all I can say for sure. I (will) go with team to west coast and we'll see. … I'm on my way.”

The Wings made a personnel move on Thursday, recalling rookie forward Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids.

Babcock indicated that Nyquist, the eighth leading scorer in the America Hockey League with 19 goals and 35 assists in 53 games with the Griffins, will begin Friday’s game on a line forward Danny Cleary and center Justin Abdelkader.

“He’s been a dominate player wherever he has been,” Babcock said. “We expected him to hit the wall and he hasn't he’s kept on going. He’s got unbelievable sense. Strong on the puck and good without it, he's an NHL player.”

While Ericsson was back at work, it’s premature to assume that the Wings’ big defenseman will be back in the lineup anytime soon.

“It's only been 10 or 11 days and it usually takes 4-6 weeks,” said Ericsson, who was hurt when he was hit in the wrist by a Brad Stuart clearing pass. “I think I'll have to wait a couple more weeks.

“I don't want to loose too much with my conditioning or skating out there on the ice. I can't do too much with the puck. I'm just trying to do what I can.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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