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Green getting close

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist scored a goal on the same day his namesake won the Breeders Cup Juvenile race. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- It looks like Red Wings defenseman Mike Green is close to returning.

Green, who suffered an upper-body injury Oct. 23 in Calgary on a first-period hit by Josh Jooris, practiced with the team Monday at Grosse Pointe's University Liggett.

"It was just good to be out there with the guys in a structured practice," Green said. "I’ve been skating here the last few days with Pavel (Datsyuk), but it’s not the same once you get back into practice so today was good."

While Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is out, Green said Friday's game in Toronto or Sunday afternoon's home game against Dallas were possibilities.

"That’s what we’re striving for," Green said. "Today was a starting point to lead up to that. We’ll see how the next few days go."

Now that Green has started practicing with the team, his next step is getting some contact.

"Just battling, making sure it’s strong enough to do so and once that’s the case then I think it’s a green light to go, but I’ve got to talk to the trainers," Green said.

Wings coach Jeff Blashill didn't want to speculate on exactly when Green would be ready but will welcome him back when he is.

"I think it’s good to see Mike taking that step," Blashill said. "Obviously, we’ve got lots of belief in Mike as a player but we’re still focused on the 20 that are going to be dressed tomorrow."

Green has two assists in seven games this season.

DATSYUK PRACTICING ALSO: Datsyuk also practiced with the Wings Monday but is still not expected back before mid-month.

"He's out there and involved," Blashill said. "And he was involved a little more today than he was the last week and more last week than he was the week before. So he's taking steps in the right direction. But I haven't had a conversation with Pav to say how close are you. I think Pav has to feel like he's 100 percent ready to go before he's going to go, as he should. Our goal ultimately is when Pav comes back, that we have him back for the season so hopefully we can get him to 100 percent."

Datsyuk had surgery June 26 to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle.

NYQUIST PROUD OF NYQUIST: Gustav Nyquist is enjoying his namesake, especially now.

Nyquist the horse won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile race Saturday and is now one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby.

"That’s one of the few races I know of," Nyquist said. "That’s a big deal for sure. Even this one, the Breeders’ Cup, I’ve heard about before. Good for him. I’m happy for the owner and the horse as well."

Owner Paul Reddam, originally of Windsor, Ontario, has named several horses after Red Wings over the years but Nyquist is by far the most successful.

"To me it was definitive that he’s the top colt in America now," Reddam said. "I think that people were very fooled by speed figures, not really thinking about he knows what he has to do and that’s what he does. I think it was very telling that the second-place horse was Swipe, who he’s been racing against in California. That was actually the fourth time they’ve met up."

Swipe has finished second in all four races against Nyquist.

Interestingly, the day that Nyquist the horse won his race, Nyquist scored a goal against Ottawa.

"I saw that," Reddam said. "So it’s all going right."

Said Nyquist: "Yeah, I guess a funny coincidence. We’re just real happy to get a win. It was a big game for us. Back to work today. Big game against Tampa. We can’t just win one game and lose again. We’ve got to keep this rolling."

While Nyquist is just getting into his hockey season, Nyquist the horse will now get some down time.

"We’re thinking about the (Kentucky) Derby and then we’re going to count backwards from the Derby," Reddam said. "Probably he will have two starts, the question is when and where? The most obvious path would be the Santa Anita Derby being the start prior to the Kentucky Derby and then deciding on which prep to run before that. Everything’s subject to change but that’s the way it looks now. He will probably run again in late February, beginning of March."

Nyquist said horse racing is very popular in Sweden but he hasn't gotten into it until now.

"I’ve never really watched that many races because I’ve not been too much into horses but maybe this makes me watch more," Nyquist said.

Nyquist said he planned to reach out to Reddam to wish him and his namesake continued luck.

TIGERS PITCHER SAW NYQUIST: Tigers ace Justin Verlander was at this year's Breeders' Cup.

Before the Juvenile race, Verlander tweeted, "Rooting for number 13 "Nyquist" in race 9. The owner Reddam names his horses after #RedWings players! #breederscup."

After the race, Verlander tweeted, "Yessss!!! #Nyquist #BreedersCip #undefeated."

STARTING GOALIE FOR TUESDAY: Blashill wasn't tipping his hand before his team played the Lightning for the second time.

Blashill said he would announce the starting goaltender after Tuesday's morning skate.

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