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Notebook: Kronwall delivers at both ends

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Niklas Kronwall is best known for his devastating open-ice hits. But with the Wings looking for more offensive production over the last few weeks, the Red Wings' defenseman has delivered.

The 28-year-old Swede had the best week of his career, recording three goals and four assists, along with a plus-five rating in the last three games.

“I think we played well as a team," Kronwall said, "and the puck just bounced our way, and I was able to get a couple goals. It was a good week for all of us.”

It was a good week, indeed. The Wings won three straight, outscoring opponents, 19-6. The goal-scoring outburst, led by Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg (four goals and five assists), was even more impressive as the Wings continue to battle through illnesses and injuries.

“I think I’ve always tried to get involved in the game and so forth, and I think most of us have been trying to chip in a little bit more, especially now with some injuries and guys out,” Kronwall said. “We had the flu for a bit going through the locker room, and now everybody’s healthy and hopefully we can just continue.”

Kronwall is currently third on the team in points with 13, behind only Zetterberg (22) and Pavel Datsyuk (16).

His impressive week has also put Kronwall within reach of career highs, with plenty of time left in the season. The Stockholm native has five goals and eight assists on the season, in only 18 games. His career-high numbers were posted over the last two seasons, when he had seven goals in 2007-08, and 45 assists in 2008-09.

The Wings’ defenseman said that his increase in scoring could be attributed to him putting the puck on goal more often.

“I think I might be shooting the puck a little bit more then I used to,” he said. “In the past maybe I was looking for that extra pass, but just shoot it and good things usually happen when you shoot it. If it doesn’t go in, there might be a rebound there or something, and we can get the puck back and stay in the zone, so a lot of good things come when you shoot the puck.”

Filppula back on the ice: Valtteri Filppula is still healing from a broken right wrist, but he is starting to prepare for his return. The Wings’ forward skated for the first time Monday, and was back on the ice this morning.

I was out there yesterday, for a little bit,” Filppula said after Tuesday’s morning practice. “It’s fun to get to skate again. I obviously can’t do much yet, but I can still go out there.”

Coach Mike Babcock said he was surprised to see Filppula out on the ice.

“I thought he was Santa Claus out there,” Babcock joked. “Nice red outfit, nice red toque, nice red cast.”

When asked about the grieving process, Filppula said he’s anxious to get back to game action.

“It’s tough obviously,” he said. “You want to play, and now it’s a couple months that I can’t. It’s tough, but at least I can work out and do legs so it should be a little easier to come back, so that helps.

“I like to watch them, but it’s obviously not as fun as to be playing, you want to be out there, but it’s still good to watch.”

The 25-year-old is still unsure about a definite timetable for his return.

“I don’t really know exactly yet, first got to get out of the cast and see how it is," Filppula said. "Hopefully everything goes well and I can get back … a couple more weeks for this cast, then I get a new one for a week or two.”

Osgood returns: Goalie Chris Osgood returned to practice Tuesday, working with coach Jim Bedard alone then participating with the rest of the team. He did not talk to the media after practice.

Babcock joked that he was avoiding Osgood during practice so he wouldn’t get sick, and confirmed that Jimmy Howard will start against Dallas Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

“I didn’t watch him in practice on purpose,” Babcock said. “Howie’s starting, he’s going to back -up and he’s going to back-up and then we’ll go from there. Ideally, Ozzie will be ready for anything.

“Ozzie, I think is going to go Friday, and Howie will go Saturday, but who knows because Howie’s playing well.”


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