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Uncharted territory for Lidstrom and Red Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Nicklas Lidstrom hopes to return to the Red Wings' lineup soon and rejoin his defensive partner Ian White. (Photo by Getty Images)
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – You can just tell by his voice that he’s feed-up with answering the questions about the injury that has forced him to miss six consecutive games, and will likely keep him out of the lineup for at least another two.

The level of frustration is understandable, especially since Nicklas Lidstrom and injuries are rarely used in the same sentence. But the ankle injury is forcing Lidstrom to go somewhere he’s never gone.

“I didn't think it was going to take this long,” Lidstrom said of his sore right ankle. “I thought I was going to be back earlier. It's been lingering, it hasn't been getting any better, so it's getting a little bit frustrating.”

The seven-time Norris Trophy winner was injured when he was struck by a puck on the outside of the ankle on Feb. 25. The play was innocent enough, when Colorado’s Jan Hedja rimmed a center ice shot around the back of the Wings’ net. But the puck took an odd bounce, clipping the Wings’ star defenseman high on the right boot.

On Monday, Lidstrom tried to skate in full gear for the first time in nearly 2 ½ weeks, but the soreness crept in pretty quickly forcing him off the ice before the Wings’ practice got underway at the Toyota Sports Center.

“I tried it a few days ago. It was better today, I could do a few laps but still not where I want it to be to be able to play a game or practice with the guys,” he said. “It's day-by-day right now. Just have to wait and see, hopefully it gets better every day.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock has already counted Lidstrom out for the next two games – Tuesday at Los Angeles and Wednesday at Anaheim – meaning the 41-year-old will have missed nine games – counting the Montreal game when he had the flu – which, unfortunately, is a single-season personal low for him.

The longest stretch that Lidstrom has missed in any one season is six games after he fell awkwardly on his knee following a body check – oddly enough against the Avalanche – in February 2008. Until this season, six was also the most games he ever missed in a season.

Tuesday’s game will be the 42nd game, including Stanley Cup playoffs, which Lidstrom has missed in his 20-season career. And one of those was to serve an NHL suspension for not fulfilling an obligation at the 2009 All-Star Game.

The ankle continues to be problem and sometimes walking has been a source of discomfort. But the biggest obstacle seems to be with the pressure caused by the boot once the laces are tied, Lidstrom said.

However, he is optimistic of a possible return during this trip with an eye on San Jose Saturday in the final game of the Wings’ three-game swing through California.

“You want to get a skate or two good skates in before you're able to play again," Lidstrom said. “I'm hoping to play quite a few games before the playoffs. It'll help to get back into game-shape again and in the long run you hope the rest will help, everyone that's out right now, to help us get a long run in the playoffs.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill



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