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Wings getting healthy, Janik returned

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
With injuries along the Wings' blue line, Doug Janik provided veteran depth on defense this month. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – The Red Wings have re-assigned veteran Doug Janik to the Grand Rapids Griffins, which would seemingly clear the way for the return of one of the team’s three injured defensemen.

But who that defenseman will be is subject for debate, and likely won’t be determined before Friday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson have been out of the Wings’ lineup since both were injured in a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Feb. 25. Jakub Kindl joined the blue liners on the injury list when he suffered a strained oblique muscle March 4.

Lidstrom, the seven-time Norris Trophy winner, has missed 11 games since he was struck in the right ankle during the second period against the Avalanche. Ericsson broke his left wrist in the same game when he shielded his face from a clearing attempt by teammate Brad Stuart.

In his 20 NHL seasons, Lidstrom has never experienced an injury that has sidelined him as long as the current ankle bruise. It was originally though that he would miss one or two games, but the swelling and pain escalated to the point that he couldn’t put the skate boot on for a few weeks. He then had a setback last week in Anaheim and was sent home early to rest the ankle.

But Thursday was the fourth straight day that Lidstrom skated. He was joined by Kindl, Ericsson and forward Johan Franzen (back spasms) on the ice at JLA.

Asked in New York on Wednesday if Saturday was a realistic target for his return, Lidstrom said, “It could happen if it feels better and better every day. The trainers don't want me to be out there if it's hurting too much because they're afraid it might take me back a couple weeks. So they want me to be careful with it and not gamble with it. I still want to push myself and see how hard I can skate.”

This season, Lidstrom has missed 12 games – he sat out with the flu in Montreal on Jan. 25 – which is 26 percent of the 46 totals games, including playoffs, that he has missed out of possible 1,815 games in his career.

“It's hard just sitting there watching, whether a team's playing well or struggling,” Lidstrom said. “And when the team's not playing well, you want to be there and help the team, you want to be in the locker room between periods, do whatever you can. It is frustrating when you can't be part of that.”

Ericsson is now able to add velocity to his slap shot, but soreness persists and will keep him out of the lineup for a few more games, though next Wednesday in Columbus is still a possibility.

“I'm not going to play this weekend, but hopefully soon after that,” Ericsson said. “Hopefully I can get a handful of games in at least and be ready for playoffs because you don't want to just jump in the playoffs.”

Janik played in nine of the last 11 games for the Wings, collecting an assist with a plus-2 rating. He is expected to be in the Griffins’ lineup tonight at San Antonio.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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