Depending on how he feels over the next two days, Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk could return to the lineup Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
"He’s going to decide Thursday morning," Wings GM Ken Holland said Tuesday. "If he has a good day tomorrow and a good morning skate on Thursday, as long as there’s no setbacks, we’re hopeful."
Datsyuk hasn’t played since the Winter Classic and has missed a total of 14 games. The Wings are officially saying it’s a lower-body injury. Speculation is, Datsyuk’s nursing an injury to his left knee.
He said earlier this week that he hoped to play in the Wings’ last two games before the Olympic break.
The Wings play at Florida on Thursday and at Tampa on Saturday, before they take a 17-day respite for the Sochi Olympics, where Datsyuk’s scheduled to captain the Russian team.
If Datsyuk is ready to go Thursday, the Wings will have to make a roster move to clear a spot for him, which could be the first of many roster moves as they begin to heal.
"Our hope is, coming out of the Olympic break, touch wood, we’re healthy," Holland said. "When you’re dealing with concussion symptoms, as in (Johan) Franzen’s case, there is no time frame.
"Hopefully, we get good luck and get the team together for the stretch run."
Holland indicated that the Wings don’t even know when Franzen will begin skating again; however, the news is more encouraging for center Stephen Weiss, who will make the Florida trip and practice with the team.
Weiss has missed the last 24 games with a sports hernia that required surgery.
"He’ll skate every day during the break," Holland said of Weiss. "He’ll skate with the Whalers (until the Wings resume practice on the Feb. 19).
"If all goes well, we’d like to get him a couple games in Grand Rapids. We’ll see in the next couple of weeks.
The Wings are targeting the weekend of Feb. 21-23 for Weiss’s return.
Holland also said that goalie Jonas Gustavsson — who left Monday’s game, a 2-0 victory over Vancouver, after one period because of dizziness — is fine.
"Shortly after the game, he was feeling back to normal," Holland said. "He’ll practice tomorrow and make the trip. No need to call anyone up."