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Sunday is a wait and see for Lidstrom

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Nicklas Lidstrom had a smile on his face after practice today at City Arena.

After suffering a sprained MCL on Feb. 18, Lidstrom has been skating with the team this week. Now, he’s on the verge of returning and feeling good.

“It felt a lot better today,” Lidstrom said of his injury. “ I’m able to go backwards to forwards, open up my hips.”

This week, both Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and Lidstrom had hinted at the possibility of the captain returning to the lineup for Sunday’s home game against the Nashville Predators.

However, Lidstrom was hesitant to make any guarantees about suiting up.

“I’ll probably talk to the trainers and the doctor as well, and we’ll see after practice tomorrow,” Lidstrom said. “We’ll see what they think and we’ll see if I’m ready to go.”

He skated the whole practice, reporting no ‘real pain.’ However, he did not participate in the more physical battle drills.

“That’s really when you can test it out,” Lidstrom said. “So we’ll hopefully do some of that tomorrow.”

Lidstrom’s return would restore the Wings’ depleted defensive core, minus veteran defenseman Chris Chelios who is still nursing a chipped right fibula. Chelios is not close to returning.

Brian Rafalski, who missed eight games with a groin injury, made an immediate impact in his comeback on Wednesday night against St. Louis. Playing 21:02 of ice time, Rafalski scored the Wings’ third goal in a 4-1 win. He finished a +3 and was named the game’s third star.
MCCARTY RETURNS TO THE JOE: The Red Wings got an unexpected blast from the past Friday morning.

Darren McCarty, who spent 11 seasons with Detroit, was at Joe Louis Arena with his former and soon-to-be teammates.

“I was surprised when I see him,” goaltender Dominik Hasek said. “It’s been a long time. Everybody’s excited. It’s very special to have a player, a person like that back in the locker room.”

McCarty did not skate with the team, but was receiving treatment for a minor rib injury.

“I’m definitely feeling good, both mentally and physically,” McCarty told The Detroit News. “And I’m ready to get in here and make my presence known.”

McCarty also attended a luncheon sponsored by the Detroit Economic Club at the Masonic Temple with some of his teammates and other Red Wings’ staff after his treatment. Fox Sports Net’s Mickey York, who emceed the event, introduced McCarty as, “our old friend, number 25,” at the end of the luncheon.

McCarty, 35, signed a prorated one-year contract with the Wings on Feb. 25. His two-week conditioning stint with the Red Wings’ minor-league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, ends this Monday.

HASEK WANTS MORE PLAYING TIME: Dominik Hasek has started the past three games for the Red Wings — including two straight wins against Buffalo and St. Louis — after returning from a rib injury against San Jose on March 29. He and Chris Osgood have split time in the net this season but Hasek is itching to play more three and four-game series in a row rather than the one-and-done system.

“I feel like I need to play more games,” Hasek said. “Like I said before, I haven’t played recently too many. I don’t need to play every game, but I’d feel very comfortable to play at least twice a week to get back into shape.”

SUMO WRESTLER? In Brian Rafalski’s return on Wednesday night, the biggest highlight wasn’t his goal. Blues defenseman Jeff Woywitka drilled Tomas Kopecky with an open ice hit with less than minute left in the game. Skirmishes ensued, including one including Rafalski. The usually mild-mannered defenseman grabbed Blues forward Lee Stempniak by the pant leg and flipped him to the ice.

“It was like a sumo wrestling move he did,” Tomas Holmstrom said of Rafalski’s takedown. “I don’t think he could do it any better.” 
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