Datsyuk, Ericsson practice with Wings

BY foxsports • March 8, 2012

DETROIT -- Perhaps the Red Wings are starting to see the light at the end of the injury tunnel.

Captain Nick Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Jimmy Howard  (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body) remain out for Friday night's home game against the Los Angeles Kings.

But both Datsyuk and Ericsson were able to participate in at least part of practice Thursday, and Lidstrom and Howard skated a little before practice.

Although Henrik Zetterberg did not practice Thursday, coach Mike Babcock said he would play Friday.

For Lidstrom, it marked the first time he's skated since suffering the deep bone bruise to his ankle.

"It's getting better every day," Lidstrom said. "My motion is getting better, my movements. My foot's getting better so that's encouraging."

But Lidstrom said he wouldn't play this weekend. He's hopeful he can return on the team's West Coast trip, which starts Tuesday in Los Angeles.

"It's just that pain when I push off. It hurts," Lidstrom said. "That's the main thing. A week ago I couldn't put my skate on. It was still swollen. That's come down, but it's that deep bone bruise that's hurting me."

Lidstrom said he has something on the outside of his skate to protect the injured area and to take some of the pressure off of it.

As for Datsyuk, he said he was definitely out for Friday but is doing much better.

"I feel good," Datsyuk said. "Nice to come back and skate with teammates. They help me a lot. Not too much pressure. They slow down, I think, making me feel better."

Niklas Kronwall was happy to see Datsyuk out there.

"It's always a good sign when guys start skating with the team again," Kronwall said. "It'll be tough to have one practice and get back to playing after being out two, two and a half weeks. It might take some more time.

"I thought he looked real good. But, again, it's Pavel. He's one of the best in the world. He makes everything look easy out there."

Babcock seemed to think things were improving on the injury front.

"(Datsyuk's) going in the right direction," Babcock said. "I think you'll see Nick back and Bert back soon, too. By the end of the weekend for sure."

The Wings sent Chris Conner back down and called up Gustav Nyquist for the third time this season. Nyquist will play Friday.

"Based on what he has done up here, there's nothing to base it on," Babcock said. "He's been a dominant player wherever he has been. I think he's eighth in scoring in the (AHL) and done a real good job. We expected him to hit the wall, and he hasn't. He's kept on going.

"We're going to play him with Abby (Justin Abdelkader) and (Danny) Cleary to start the game, and we'll see how it goes."

Ericsson said Babcock wants the injured players to do only as much as they can during practice.

"It's a little bit restricted out there," Ericsson said. "I'm just trying to be on the drills that I can be out there. I don't want to lose too much with my conditioning or skating out there on the ice.

"Can't do too much with the puck. I'm just trying to do what I can."

Ericsson had his stick during practice but wasn't using it too much, which isn't surprising. He broke his wrist on Feb. 25, and it usually takes four to six weeks to heal.

Hits keep coming for Kronwall

Niklas Kronwall is not a very popular person in Philadelphia these days, but the NHL doesn't think he did anything wrong.

In Tuesday night's game in Philadelphia, Kronwall hit Jakub Voracek in the second period.

Although Voracek had to get stitches in his mouth and won't play Thursday night, the NHL did not punish Kronwall.

"Everything happened so fast out there," Kronwall said. "You're not really thinking. You just try to lay a clean check on someone.

"It's always unfortunate when someone gets hurt. Hope he gets back. He's a hell of a player."

Flyers fans might not agree, but Voracek was not upset with Kronwall.

"I think it was clean," Voracek told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I had my head down. ... I saw him standing on the blue line, and I was kind of naive and thought he was going to back up.

"It was a tough hit to take, but I think it was a clean hit from my side. It was my bad, and I think those hits should stay in the game."

Babcock doesn't want Kronwall to lose any of his aggressiveness on the ice.

"Kronner has to continue to play his game," Babcock said. "He didn't target the head. His head was leaning forward. He didn't want to hurt him in any way. I think we all know that.

"He's got to be competitor and play hard, and that's part of the game. We want that in the game, but we sure don't want anyone getting hurt. Kronner understands that and understands how the game is supposed to be played."