More good Sens news: Craig Anderson nears return

The Ottawa Senators are rolling right now, and that Ben Bishop trade is looking pretty darn bright so far. The big goalie is 3-0-2 as a Sens netminder, including a 2-1 OT win tonight in which he only faced a laughable 14 shots from the Montreal Canadiens.

(I have to admit that I checked to make sure that he didn’t come in to relieve another goalie when I first saw that stat.)

Things are going so well that you almost wonder if a bit of good news might disrupt an improving situation. The Ottawa Citizen’s Wayne Scanlan reports that injured No. 1 guy Craig Anderson is on the verge of a return.

Bishop’s productive Senators start might lead some to believe that there might be a late-season goalie battle, but Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean seems eager to give Anderson the majority of the starts – whenever he’s ready.

“Of the 11 [now 10] games we have left, we’d like him to get in as many as he can get in,” MacLean said.

So, the Senators’ potential Jack Adams candidate doesn’t seem to have much of a doubt about going back to Anderson, but do you think his return could actually mess with a good thing? Or is it a cherry on the sundae of a great week for the Senators and an awful one for the Boston Bruins?

It looks like Datsyuk in, Franzen out for Detroit tomorrow


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 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’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.

Red Wings give Nicklas Lidstrom the weekend off

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“Consistent greatness” is probably the phrase that best describes Nicklas Lidstrom’s obvious Hall of Fame career. Still, another quality defines his great run: remarkable health.

As Ansar Khan points out, Lidstrom has already passed his previous career high for consecutive games missed (which was just four in 2008), but it’s looking like he’ll keep adding to that mark. The Red Wings sent him back to Detroit as his frustration builds and he won’t go back to skating until Monday – at the earliest.

We’re not talking about playing, mind you, just skating. Lidstrom is dealing with a deep bone bruise in his right ankle suffered on Feb. 25.

As of this writing, the St. Louis Blues have a seven-point lead in the Central Division (and, currently, the top spot in the league) with the same amount of games remaining. Much like the Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews, the Red Wings might want to change their aim. Rather than pushing Lidstrom to return as soon as possible and fight for seeding, Detroit may be better off letting him get as close to 100 percent as the playoffs approach.

Sure, the Red Wings’ home-road disparity is stark,* but sometimes it’s just best to err on the side of safety – even if Lidstrom probably seemed like more an indestructible hockey cyborg than a human on skates during the majority of his playing days.

* They’re 28-4-2 at home and just 16-20-1 on the road.

Corey Perry’s a game-time decision for Ducks tonight

Barring an even-bigger-than-Buffalo run, the Anaheim Ducks are really just playing for pride and future contracts right now. With that in mind, the team would be wise to play it safe with players like Corey Perry, who is a game-time decision according to Eric Stephens of the OC Register.

A Stephane Robidas hit left Perry with a banged up shoulder, forcing him to end his consecutive games played streak at 272 on Monday.

Stephens reports that Perry and fellow injured Ducks player Luca Sbisa did participate in Anaheim’s morning skate, although Perry left fairly early. Sbisa reportedly has a better chance to play tonight, but both haven’t been ruled out of tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

In the grand scheme of things, Perry’s status is likely most relevant to two groups: a) his nightly opponents and b) his fantasy hockey owners. It sounds like Group A will be happier than Group B tonight, but we’ll see.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Red Wings happy to get Todd Bertuzzi back tonight


To many, Todd Bertuzzi will always be a villain thanks to that ugly incident with Steve Moore.

Still, he moved on with his career and despite bouncing around the league after the Vancouver Canucks traded him, Bertuzzi has found a solid niche with the Detroit Red Wings. The banged-up forward told Helene St. James that he expects to return to action against the Anaheim Ducks tonight.

The Red Wings are a wounded bunch right now, with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard either just coming back from injuries or on the verge of returns.

Bertuzzi isn’t the bulldozer star he once was, but with 30 points in 59 games and the solid chemistry he’s developed, his return will be a welcome sight in Detroit.