If you want a damning stat when it comes to the Detroit Red Wings’ resiliency, look at their 16-20-1 road record.
On the other hand, chew on this fact pointed out by NHL.com: Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall are the only Red Wings who’ve played every game this season.*
Perhaps that’s just a sign that Detroit’s core is getting older, but if this team can get healthy by playoff time, there’s no telling how far they might go. As far as that’s concerned, the word from CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz is that Pavel Datsyuk should make his return to the Red Wings’ lineup after missing almost a month with a knee injury. That’s great news, but Detroit fans are probably used to injury-related “yeah, buts” and there’s one today, too: Johan Franzen appears primed to miss Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks with a bad back.
This explanation might turn a stomach or two in the Motor City:
Franzen said that he’s experienced back problems in the past, but nothing quite this bad.
“I never had this before. Not like this,” the team’s leading goal-scorer told the Wings’ website. “Can’t play like this.”
Well that doesn’t sound very promising.
For quite some time, Franzen’s carried the “What if?” label with him because of injuries.
That was especially true in a 27-game 2009-10 regular season, although he seemed to have a ceiling around 72 games for a few years until 2010-11, when he played in the second-most games of his career (76 games). Franzen has managed to play in all 71 Red Wings games so far, notching 26 goals and 53 points, but from the sound of his quotes, one cannot help but wonder if Detroit will be lucky to get him back by playoff time.
Then again, he’s called “The Mule” so maybe he’ll shoulder the burden of a quick return (or maybe not even miss a beat). The Red Wings next game will be on NBC Sports Network tomorrow night, so you can eye-ball Detroit – Franzen or not – for yourself.
* – At least if Franzen misses tomorrow’s game, as expected.