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Notes: DeKeyser back on the ice, still needs some time

Wings hope to make offensively gifted Maple Leafs play defense

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

TORONTO - The good news is Danny DeKeyser is skating again.

The bad news is he will still need some time before he's ready to play.

DeKeyser went on the ice during the Wings' optional morning skate at Toronto's Air Canada Centre Wednesday.

"I went out a little bit yesterday, too, but not as long," DeKeyser said. "It didn't feel good yesterday. It feels a lot better today."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said getting DeKeyser back on the ice is a good sign.

"Yeah, it's good to see DK back," Blashill said. "Hopefully we get him back in soon. I'm not gonna set a timetable on it yet but certainly he's making progress on it."

DeKeyser left the game Oct. 10 in Dallas with a lower-body injury and has not played since then.

"I took the shot off the inside of the foot," DeKeyser said. "I don't really remember doing it but I kind of turned my ankle over a little bit at the same time. It more the sprain that's keeping me out rather than the bruise."

DeKeyser said he was able to stay on the ice a little longer this morning than he did back in Detroit Tuesday.

"It felt good," DeKeyser said. "Still somewhat weak doing certain stuff, cutting in, stuff like that. Just want to make sure it's ready to go in the corners when guys are leaning on you, you've got to make sure it's strong enough to hold that stuff up. You don't want to get hurt again."

DeKeyser said he is hopeful to return to play sooner than later.

"A week is a pretty decent timeline," DeKeyser said. "If it keeps progressing, maybe before that but we'll see how it goes."

LEAFS HAVE LOTS OF FIREPOWER: No team has scored more than the Toronto Maple Leafs with their 28 goals in their first six games.

They are averaging 4.67 goals per game and 36.2 shots per game.

"They do have a younger team with a lot of skill, I think, a lot of speed," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "I think we can't give them a lot of time and space out there because that's when they're really good. We got to try to eliminate that and try to spend as much time in their end as possible because I think they're a better offensive team than they are a defensive team."

In his second season, Auston Matthews is leading the way for the Leafs with five goals among eight points.

It's the second challenge for the Wings this week after facing Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov this past Monday.

On Friday, they get the league's leading goal scorer in Washington's Alex Ovechkin, who has nine goals.

"The more you see a player, obviously the more of his tendencies you can see and learn from," Ericsson said. "Ovi's been in the league for the longest time so you've seen his tendencies over and over and over again and how he scores his goals, where he likes to be, the kind of player he is.

"I would say Matthews is probably a guy that you haven't maybe really figured out yet. He's got a lot of good tools out there that he's using. I feel like he can score from kind of anywhere. Obviously he does it all. I haven't seen him enough to know all of his tendencies. It's a challenge but it's always a challenge and we welcome it."

In four career games against the Wings, Matthews has five goals and one assist.

Of course Matthews gets the bulk of the attention after scoring 40 goals last season, but the Leafs are loaded with players like Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly and veteran Patrick Marleau.

"For sure they're deep," Riley Sheahan said. "They have so much firepower up front. I think you just got to be aware of every line. If you can just make them play in their D zone and limit their offense, try to limit their momentum, I think we should be good."

The Wings would also do well to stay out of the penalty box as the Leafs are tied for second in the league at 28.6 percent.

"I think we've had a little bit of a tough time doing that," Sheahan admitted. "They got a dangerous power play so we just got to be a little more disciplined."

The Wings are fifth in the NHL in penalty killing at 89.3 percent but that could drop quickly if they aren't careful in Toronto.

"That's a big key thing," Ericsson said. "Obviously we know they have a really lethal power play and we don't want to give them too many opportunities."

MARLEAU'S MILESTONE: When Marleau hits the ice tonight, he will reach the 1,500-game milestone.

"It's one thing to get 1,500 and another thing to be as good as he is, play with the pace he does and be the kind of person he is," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "Pretty special. Pretty special for our team to witness it. We're lucky to have him here, we're excited to have him, we're excited for him today and we need to play in this situation for him."

At 38, Marleau has three goals and two assists in six games.

In 66 career games against Detroit, Marleau has 25 goals and 25 assists.

SAD DAY IN CANADA: Many in hockey are fans of the Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, and are in mourning after lead singer Gord Downie passed away Tuesday night due to brain cancer.

"First of all, I am a fan," Blashill said. "I was a fan growing up and I am still a fan. Got lots of it on my iPhone. Obviously just a sad deal. The one thing was that neat is that I went to their final tour just to see the impact it had on a lot of people's lives. I just think it's a huge reminder. I say it all the time - the impact you have on people is the biggest mark you'll leave in this life and he obviously left a mark."

Babcock said it was a reminder to stay in the moment.

"It's tragic," Babcock said. "You got to live each and every day, you never know what's going to happen in life to your family, to yourself. You have to enjoy the moments. I think it's so important to be in the present and enjoy what you're doing.

"I know I'm a fan of all music. I don't know any musicians except Bob Seger, how's that?"

LINEUPS: Not all players participated in the morning skate, but Blashill said the lineup would be the same as it was Monday against Tampa.

Jimmy Howard was the first goaltender off the ice. He is 5-3-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 11 career games against the Leafs.

Expected lines:

Anthony Mantha-Henrik Zetterberg-Gustav Nyquist

Tomas Tatar-Dylan Larkin-Justin Abdelkader

Martin Frk-Frans Nielsen-Darren Helm

Sheahan-Luke Glendening-Luke Witkowski

Expected defense pairs:

Ericsson-Trevor Daley

Niklas Kronwall-Mike Green

Xavier Ouellet-Nick Jensen

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