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Notes: Wings' Ericsson feeling better but won't play Saturday

Sulak still feeling ill and is also out; Golden Knights on a hot streak

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

LAS VEGAS -- The Detroit Red Wings have had lots of luck on the blue line this season -- nearly all of it bad.

But there should be at least one reinforcement returning soon, just not in time for Saturday's game in Las Vegas.

Veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson was one of the 10 players who skated during the team's optional practice at T-Mobile Arena Friday afternoon.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Practice getting started in Vegas. Back to game action tomorrow. #DETvsVGK #LGRW

Ericsson has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury that he suffered March 12 at Montreal.

"I'm not exactly sure but I think I was trying to kind of protect, going for the puck and it was (Brendan) Gallagher kind of falling on my leg," Ericsson said. "My skate kind of got stuck and he kind of fell over it and I fell over myself, too."

Things appear to be moving in the right direction for Ericsson after the optional practice.

"It was my best day today by far," Ericsson said. "It felt better. I tried to test it a little more today and it was pretty good."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said they would wait until tomorrow to see how Ericsson responds but said he will not play against the Golden Knights.

Trevor Daley has essentially been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a lingering back issue so the Wings had recalled Libor Sulak under emergency conditions Wednesday.

Sulak practiced with the team in St. Louis but he ended up being too ill to play.

"I don't know what the odds are of that, but that's a little unlucky," Ericsson said, shaking his head.

Sulak was not among those skating Friday.

"He's still not here (practicing), so I'd rule Sulak out for tomorrow as well, just based on the fact that he hasn't been able to skate the last few days," Blashill said. "If he's that sick to where he can't get here, then obviously, he's not ready to play."

Mike Green is out for the rest of the season because the virus that kept him out the first nine games of the season resurfaced. He has missed 31 games so far this season.

Daley has missed 30, which includes the time out recovering from the broken foot he suffered blocking a shot in the morning skate on Dec. 31.

Ericsson has missed a total of 20 games this season.

Danny DeKeyser missed 27 games earlier in the season.

Niklas Kronwall missed the first three games of the season but has played in every game since then.

Even rookie Dennis Cholowski, when he was with the Wings earlier, missed two games with a minor injury.

"It's been a little different for sure," Ericsson said. "There's been a lot of injuries. Too many. Myself a few times this year and some of the other guys a few times, so it's frustrating, especially because you never get any good rhythm. You come back and maybe you're not feeling the best when you come back and you're basically playing a little banged up. It is what it is."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Brian Rolston, new Director of Little Caesars Amateur Hockey joins us on episode 104 of The Red & White Authority presented by @LabattUSA. Listen/download:

NOT OPTIMAL TIME TO FACE VEGAS: The hottest team outside the Tampa Bay Lightning of late has been the Vegas Golden Knights, who are 9-1-0 in their last 10.

The Golden Knights are coming off a 5-0 shutout of the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets and possess a 23-10-4 mark at T-Mobile Arena.

"First, they got a really good team, they're 10-1 in their last 11," Blashill said. "They got a very, very good hockey team, they're probably as deep a scoring threats as there is in the league in terms of number of number of goal scorers on three lines and they got a fourth line that has a great role and they're good at it and they do a good job. They've got D up in the play all the time and he's been out here in the last little bit but (Marc-Andre) Fleury is one of the best goalies in the league, so they got a really good team.

"So I think anytime you come into a home building where it's got a great atmosphere, where it's loud, where momentum can go in their way and they got a really good team, that's a recipe for lots of success. Other than that, I don't worry about outside challenges. I expect my guys to be professionals to get themselves whatever it takes to be ready to play. I don't worry about that one bit. The only thing I worry about is when the puck drops and us playing great hockey."

The Wings were actually the first team to beat the Golden Knights in their inaugural season, a 6-3 victory on Oct. 13, 2017.

Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and three assists and Gustav Nyquist had two goals in that game. Petr Mrazek made 24 saves for the win.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Howard confirmed he is starting tomorrow.

SVECHNIKOV NOT SKATING: Injured forward Evgeny Svechnikov is with the Wings on their long road trip but he has not been skating the last several days.

Svechnikov underwent surgery on Oct. 16 to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and has been rehabbing, hoping to return before the season ends.

"I think part of when you're coming back from an ACL, you're going to have good days and bad days, you're going to go up and down," Blashill said. "You're going to start to push a little bit more and then all the sudden you feel some pain and you got to ease off. I wouldn't necessarily say that's a setback, I think it's a normal thing in his recovery.

"I think he, at one point, really wanted to push to play this year. I don't know if that's going to be reality. I think, as he went through it, it looks like it might be a thing where he's just got to get himself ready for next year, but I don't know that 100 percent yet, so let's wait and see how the recovery continues."

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