After missing the last 10 games with an ankle injury — and set to miss game No. 11 tonight — Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s finally seeing light at the end of a long recovery tunnel.
“I can pivot better today, skate and push a little bit more,” Lidstrom told NHL.com. “A week ago out in L.A., when I skated out there, it was too sharp of a pain — just that stabbing pain where I couldn’t walk with my skate. That’s a lot better.
“It still hurts turning and pivoting, when I put pressure on that point, but that sharp pain is not there like it was a week ago.”
This is a big development for the Red Wings, who are 3-6-1 without Lidstrom and 1-6-1 over their last eight games. They’re in desperate need of the captain’s return…and the return of defensemen in general. Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) will miss his 11th straight game on Wednesday while Jakub Kindl (upper body) will miss his eighth.
Without those three in the lineup, Detroit head coach Mike Babcock has been forced to use a patchwork blueline. In Monday’s 5-3 loss to Washington, 31-year-old journeyman Doug Janik dressed for just the eighth time this year (and played over 15 minutes) while rookie Brendan Smith made just his 13th appearance and played 17:57, the second-highest ice time of his career.
Understandably, Lidstrom wants back in the lineup.
“It’s always hard sitting on the sidelines, and when the team is not playing well you want to be there to help the team, be a part of the team, be in the locker room,” Lidstrom said. “It’s frustrating when you can’t be a part of that.”
Reports indicate that Saturday’s home date against Carolina could mark Lidstrom’s return to the lineup, though neither Lidstrom or the club would confirm. The seven-time Norris winner did say that trainers are concerned about him rushing back too quickly and suffering a setback.
“You want to get some games in before the playoffs start to get back to game tempo and game situations,” Lidstrom said. “On the other side, you don’t want to get hurt again and take a couple steps backward.
“You want to be careful with it, but you have to test it out, try it, see how it feels.”