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Notebook: Osgood says, 'I'll be back'

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood was encouraged after he skated before Tuesday’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena.

“It felt real good,” said Osgood, who had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 11. “Really no pain at all today. It’s just a matter of getting confident enough to stretch my leg out to that one side.”

Osgood’s successful surgery came 15-days after the veteran played in his 400th career win. But the groin injury was something that had hindered Osgood since the start of the season, and he even thought it might be something that could have prematurely finished his season.

Osgood has been precautious, easing himself back, and taking part in a few drills before the full-team practices.

“I’ve faced some shots, but not in practice yet,” Osgood said. “I feel better now, health-wise and strength-wise then I did previous to the injury.”

Now Osgood has his sights on returning to the line-up before the end of the regular-season.

“There’s no doubt, I’ll be back,” proclaimed Osgood. “It’s just a matter of when. I don’t know if it will be the West Coast trip. It depends on how I feel. I can’t put a date on it right now.”

On Friday, the Wings leave on a nine-day road swing that will take them cross-country from Buffalo to southern California.

Osgood’s health is a concern for the Red Wings’ organization. On Tuesday’s “NHL Live” on XM Radio, Wings general manager Ken Holland indicated that he is prepared to search for a goalie by Monday’s trade deadline, if Osgood’s health is a concern.

“If he has a good week this week, we may stand pat,” Holland said. “Certainly he’s our No. 1 priority heading into next Monday.”

MODANO EYE’S RETURN:  It’s been more than 12 weeks since Mike Modano suffered a nasty wrist injury that required surgery to fix ligament and nerve damage caused by a skate blade.

But now, the 40-year-old center is preparing to return to the Red Wings’ line-up, perhaps as early as Saturday in Buffalo.

“It feels fine to me with what I have to do, and what I try to accomplish on the ice,” said Modano, who tallied eight points before the Nov. 26 injury. “There is still some nerve issue there that the total sensation isn’t back, and that will be a long time. But it feels good shooting and as far as getting involved in traffic and pushing on it – it feels good.”

If Saturday is to mark Modano’s return, that will give him 21 regular-season games to get ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and prove to the organization that they made the right decision when they signed the Livonia native to a one-year contract last off-season.

“I’m just trying to do anything possible to get into the best shape that I can,” Modano said. “Get prepared, and get ready mentally and physically and see if I can make a real big push here, and be an impact that they were hoping for me to be.”

MILESTONES & NERVES: For the second straight game the Red Wings are dealing with an NHL milestone. On Sunday, forward Todd Bertuzzi played in career game No. 1,000, in which he so happened to score the game-winning shoot-out goal at Minnesota.

Defenseman Ruslan Salei will play in his 900th game when the Red Wings host the San Jose Sharks Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

“I was injured last year,” Salei said. “When you’re injured you just focus on getting better and the rest of the stuff you think of once you get back.”

At 37-years-old, Salei believes that he has enough in the tank to play in at least another 100 NHL games.

“You can’t get to 1,000 without getting to 900,” he said. “You have to get to 900 and 901; one game at a time.”

For now, Salei, who has a goal among nine points, is having fun on a winning team this season.

“It’s a fun team to play for with winning with a winning attitude,” he said. “I’m having fun.”

What hasn’t been fun for Salei is the separation anxiety of being away from his wife, Bethann, who eight months pregnant and back home in California.

“So far it’s been good; so far it’s on schedule,” he said. “It’s never easy being separated, but it’s a decision that we made. She’s more comfortable there.”

The baby’s due date is March 16.

NOTEBOOK: Valtteri Filppula (sprained MCL) skated again Tuesday morning, and hopes to be healthy enough to return for the Wings’ game against Dallas on Thursday.

“It definitely felt good today, so I’m happy about that,” Filppula said. “I’m really hoping for Saturday, for sure, but if it feels good (Wednesday), we’ll see.”

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