Wings notes: Cleary experiencing frustrating season

Daniel Cleary, 35, has been limited to 52 games this season because of a knee injury.

Perry Nelson/Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — It’s been a long, frustrating season for Daniel Cleary.

Cleary, 35, has been limited to 52 games this season because of a knee injury and hasn’t played since Jan. 28 at Philadelphia.

Around the Olympic break, Cleary had a lubricant shot in his knee, something he had done twice before without any problem.

This time was different.

"There’s like a one percent chance of getting a reaction out of it and I was that one percent," Cleary said. "Just swelled up real bad, took three weeks for the swelling to go away. I had to drain it numerous times. So now it’s starting to feel better.

"It’s been boring, it’s been mentally trying. Looking to get back on the ice in the next few days."

Cleary said he’s been skating before practice so as not to get in the way of the players trying to get their work done.

The only good thing for Cleary has been watching the young kids come into their own.

"It’s great to see," Cleary said. "Good kids, too, that’s the thing. I try to discipline them every other day if they get out of line. Certainly doing great. It’s awesome. You’re first-hand witnessing NHL players evolving in front of your eyes. It went a little touch-and-go there for a while but certainly last few games, guys dug in and got some key points."

With only eight games left in the regular season, Cleary knows he’s running out of time to get his conditioning back.

"Obviously you train off the ice," Cleary said. "You’re out a week or 10 days or a month or two months, whatever it is, there’s nothing like game condition no matter what you do so you gotta get games, that type of setting. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get it so we’ll see."

Cleary could only shake his head at the fact that he had a bad reaction to something he’s had before.

"It’s quite fitting, actually, how you see we’ve gone this year with injuries on the team," Cleary said. "It’s like, really? That’s how it’s been."

They have pulled past the Pittsburgh Penguins with 110 points to the Penguins’ 101 and are staying ahead of the St. Louis Blues (107 points) in the Presidents Trophy race.

The Bruins have scored 241 goals, third-best in the league, and have allowed a league-best 158.

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Meanwhile, the Wings need all the points they can get, which will obviously be hard to come by against the Bruins.

"Machine-like right now, for sure," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Since the Olympic break they’ve been outstanding. I don’t know if anyone in the league is really surprised. We all think they got a good team. (Patrice) Bergeron I think is an elite player. He’s like the conscience of the team, he does it right. He can drag the rest of the guys into battle.

"(David) Krejci is a real good player. That line with (Milan) Lucic and (Jarome) Iginla is going. Iggy is like he’s got new life. He’s energized and he looks that way when he plays. Not just that he’s scoring but just in the hop in his step and the way he’s playing. They got good deep and veterans in the third and fourth group that play real well.  

"They look like a good club to me, it should be a lot of fun.”

The Wings can’t afford to take penalties against the Bruins.

"One of the big things is their power play with (Zdeno) Chara there in front of it," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "It’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to find a way to at least tie up his stick."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is likely to be a Vezina Trophy candidate with his 34-14-5 record, 2.02 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

"They’re a team that has had the core group together for awhile now," Daniel Alfredsson said. "They don’t give up anything easy, and you know it’s going to be a game where it will be close for awhile and then it seems like they pounce on one mistake and then score two goals late and win 5-2.

"Patience is extremely important against a team like that, in the neutral zone, and obviously in today’s league if you can get the lead and force the other team to do something that they don’t usually do that could be to our advantage. That first goal is huge (Wednesday)."

The Wings also realize that if they do make the playoffs, the Bruins are a potential first-round matchup.

"If we get in we’re most likely playing them or Pittsburgh," Justin Abdelkader said. "You have to look it that way too. It’s a good test for us and a good measuring stick."

"It was fun," Abdelkader said. "Nice weather. Nice to be outside. It was great, exciting."

Even some of the Swedes like Gustav Nyquist decided to go.

"I did for a few hours," Nyquist said. "I saw the last few innings so I saw the ending. It was great. It’s not my favorite sport but it was a fun event to go to. It was a great, nice day, nice weather, a lot of people, so it was a great day."

"It was a nice goal, I guess," Nyquist said. "It was a fun goal to score, for sure."

Nyquist said he was not aware that his goal was deemed the No. 1 play of the weekend on ESPN.

"No, I did not see that," Nyquist said. "That’s cool, I guess."