DETROIT – Johan Franzen skated alone for about 30-minutes prior to the Red Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday morning.
The big power forward stuck around for the beginning of practice, but later said Tuesday’s involvement was a step in the right direction.
Franzen confirmed that he suffered a lower-body injury when Phoenix captain Shane Doan hit him into the end boards during the first period of Game 2. Franzen needed 21 stitches to close facial cuts, but returned later in the game. He played in Game 3 – even scoring a goal – but did not play in the Wings’ series clinching win in Game 4. He was replaced by veteran Mike Modano.
“Just wheeling around a little bit, see how it felt,” Franzen said about Tuesday morning.
While Franzen has been limited to riding a bike for exercise, he was positive that he’ll play whenever the Western Conference semifinals begin.
Wings coach Mike Babcock also expects Franzen to be ready.
“He’ll play if he’s ready, and he won’t play if he’s not ready,” Babcock said. “It’s that simple. But it’s my anticipation that he’s going to be ready. Now I’ve been wrong before, but I think the Mule’s going to play.”
Franzen hopes to participate in a full practice before Game 1 starts, which is expected to be Thursday or Friday in Detroit (against Nashville) or in San Jose. He said the time off between rounds certainly hasn’t hurt his recovery, but even if he can’t play, he has confidence in whoever will fill his spot.
“Yeah … we have a deep team,” Franzen said. “Everyone can come in and play, and play good for us, so yeah, it’s good to have.”
SALEI MISSES: Ruslan Salei did not practice Tuesday, but was present in the Wings’ locker room. Babcock said that he expects the defenseman to be ready for the Wings’ next game, saying Salei had “just a boo-boo”.