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Lidstrom encouraged by improvement

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Nicklas Lidstrom skated for 30-minutes Monday, which was a definite good sign for the 41-year-old defenseman, who hasn't played since Feb. 25. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – Four days away from the rink may just have done the trick for defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom who has been out of the Red Wings’ lineup with a badly bruised ankle for nearly a month.

The seven-time Norris Trophy winner was back on the ice Monday morning as his team prepared for tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals. Lidstrom skated for almost 30-minutes, which was his longest skating session since suffering the injury against Colorado on Feb. 25.

While Lidstrom won’t play tonight, he is getting closer to returning, which is encouraging, he said, and something the Wings desperately need right now.

“It's been slowly getting better,” said Lidstrom, who was sent home from the Wings’ California road trip last Thursday. “The big test is when you put your skate on and you're skating. That's when the most pressure's on it and you can really test it out.

“I can walk around and do all that. The most pain is from tying the skate, putting the pressure on where it's hurting and trying to skate and trying to push off with your toes when you're trying to skate. That's what's been bothering me.”

Lidstrom returned to Detroit four days ahead of the team after he experienced a setback in Anaheim last Wednesday. He had a third X-ray of the right ankle taken last Friday, but just as the previous two tests showed, there is no structural damage to the bone.

“It felt better than a few days ago in L.A. I was able to skate a little bit longer. We'll see how it feels and how it reacts tomorrow,” he said. “I still look at it being day-to-day. Hopefully it continues to get better every day. I'm hoping (this skate) will help it and it's not going to get worse from skating.”

Lidstrom plans to skate again Tuesday and if all goes well will accompany the team to New York for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, where he will participate in the morning skate.

If the pain continues to subside, a return prior to the end of the regular-season would be an ideal scenario, he said.

“I want to get some games in before the playoffs start,” Lidstrom said. “It's just a matter of getting better everyday. I need to feel strong in one practice and hopefully that'll carry over to the next day. That's how you want it to improve. As far as being able to play again that's going to be up to the coaching staff and trainers.”

Since late February, 12 players have missed games due to injury or illness. And while Wings coach Mike Babcock was delighted to see Lidstrom back on the ice, he would like to see his team get healthier sooner than later.

“It didn’t look like he was anywhere close, but at least he was out there, so that’s a good thing,” Babcock said. “It’s nice and obviously we’d like to get him back. We’d like to get everyone back.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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