– It will be a game-time decision whether or not Nicklas Lidstrom
returns to the Red Wings’ lineup tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom, the 41-year-old Wings’ legend, has missed the last 11 games with a badly bruised ankle after he was struck on the outside of the right leg by a rim-around shot against Colorado on Feb. 25.
“They want me to come down and test it out tonight in warm-ups and then we'll go from there,” Lidstrom said following today’s morning skate. “So they want me to be a game-time decision”
“They” that Lidstrom refers to are the team’s medical staff and trainers, which he’ll meet with immediately following the pre-game warmp-ups.
"Well, it's not my decision I can tell you that, because if it was my decision he would've played, you know, two weeks ago,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Does he come back (tonight) and does he feel sore? That'll be up to him and how he feels.”
Another injured defenseman, Jakub Kindl
, is already scheduled to make his return tonight after missing eight games with a painfully strained oblique muscle. If Lidstrom does play, rookie defenseman Brendan Smith
has already been told that he’ll be a healthy scratch against the Hurricanes.
Lidstrom, who has played in 1,556 games, has missed a total of 44 regular-season games during his 20 NHL seasons. In contrast, iconic Steve Yzerman missed 322 regular-season games out of a possible 1,836 games in 22 seasons.
Of the seven NHL players, who spent some or all of their 1,500-plus game careers with the Red Wings, hall of famer Alex Delvecchio missed the fewest games, sitting out 42 regular-season contests out of a possible 1,591.
Since Lidstrom’s injury, the Wings have struggled, posting a 3-6-2 record, while being out-scored 32-28. Detroit is 0-4-2 in its last six.
"It's slowly been getting better. I think today was better than yesterday so that's a good sign that it's been going in the right direction,” Lidstrom said. “They want to make sure I have no soreness coming back, going onto the ice twice in one day. That's why they want me take warm-ups and go from there.”
Lidstrom expects to play with some localized pain, but it’s something he’ll have to get used to, he said.
"It's going to be staying with me for a while, it's just a matter of not getting worse,” he said. “I think that's what they're afraid of, that it's going to get worse. … Once you're in the game, I think it's just a matter of getting used to game situations and the tempo of the game out there.”
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