First the good news: center Kris Draper skated for the first time since he sprained his left knee in the Wings’ 5-3 win over Calgary on Nov. 27.
Draper skated with a fitted knee brace for nearly 20-minutes Friday morning. He’ll likely have to wear the brace for the foreseeable future.
“I skated a little bit, then did a couple of drills,” Draper said. “It was nice to get back out on the ice and it’s really a matter of getting comfortable with the brace.
“Hopefully now that I skated today I can skate every day. Just kind of get better and a little stronger.”
Getting used to wearing the knee brace will take some time, Draper said.
“That’s going to be an adjustment,” he said. “I’ve never had to rely on something like that, probably in the last 10-11 years. But the alternative isn’t good, so I realize that I have to put it on and I have to get used to it, and I have to deal with it.
“It’s basically the same brace that (Niklas Kronwall
) wears. You see him skate and the agility that he has, he doesn’t have any issues with it, so it’s just a matter of time of getting comfortable with it.”
As long as he doesn’t experience any pain, the plan for Draper is to continue skating with the idea of him returning to practice by early next week.
“I’m hoping if I can skate Saturday and Sunday that maybe I can have a practice on Tuesday,” said Draper, who has six goals and five assists in 24 games this season. “That would be ideal, but I have to see the doc tonight. The biggest thing is for me not being hesitant, not being cautious, and just going out there and skating the way I can skate.”
Now for the bad news: left wing Kirk Maltby is to see a specialist this afternoon for his sore lower back that will keep him out of his fourth straight game when the Wings host Minnesota tonight.
“It’s the status quo, unfortunately,” Maltby said. “It’s certain movements -- touching toes, getting out of the vehicle, that kind of thing. Rotation isn’t too bad, but to go out there and skate, I couldn’t do it. And obviously, taking hits or giving hits, there’s no way.”
Like Draper, Maltby was also injured in the first period of the Nov. 27 game against the Flames.
“I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think it happened on Drapes’ goal against Calgary,” Maltby said. “I think it was (Dion) Phaneuf kind of cross-checked me from behind. I got that whiplash sensation, and it got a little sore as the game went along, and it was the next day when it was really sore.”
Maltby skated Monday in Montreal, but experienced a set-up toward the end of the on-ice workout. Since then, he’s been relegated to off-ice work.
“When you don’t have an answer when you’re sore, it would be nice to know what direction that you’re going or what direction you need to be going so you can get back to where you need to be,” he said. “Hopefully, this guy today can give me answers.”