Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 3/23/12

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 09: Head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings speaks to the media during a press conference after Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Mellon Arena on June 9, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Wishful thinking was on display after Red Wings practice on Friday. Many of the injured players were encouraged with their progress leading head coach Mike Babcock to believe that Captain Nick Lidstrom (ankle bone bruise) was ready to rejoin the lineup. Nicks in, isnt he?" Babcock asked reporters after practice. When the coach was informed that Lidstrom indicated that he was still day-to-day and hed gauge his return on how he felt after Saturdays morning skate, Babcock replied. I thought that Nick was back for sure, said Babcock. Thats just me watching practice. It just goes to show you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lidstrom participated for the entire practice, but afterword was cautious about saying hed return Saturday against Carolina at Joe Louis Arena. Well have to see how it feels after having a good practice today, said Lidstrom. We dont want it to get any worse. Im going to skate tomorrow morning, but its still day-to-day. Detroits captain said that the decision of when hell play again will be left up to the trainers and the coaching staff. As it stands right now, Lidstrom wants to make sure that once he does return he will not re-aggravate the ankle. I felt better today than I did two or three days ago, which is encouraging, said Lidstrom. Its slowly getting better thats the good part. Its just a matter of the doctors making sure that its healing the way it should be and I cant aggravate it again. Its not of question of playing through the pain for Lidstrom. He acknowledges that once he returns hell be sore and have to play through some discomfort. The difficult part is trying to determine when hes reached that point of tolerating the pain without putting his injured ankle at risk. You could tell Babcock really is hoping that Lidstrom will be ready for the Hurricanes. Its been a grind for Detroit and having the captain back may be the elixir that will end the Wings six game losing streak. We want him to get back and help us get out of our zone quicker, said Babcock. Were not as quick and were not as fast a team. Our gap is not quite as tight, were not as efficient on sort outs. Were not near as good on the power play. You go through the whole thing hes a big part of everything. Howard and MacDonald hopeful Starting goalie Jimmy Howard (tweaked groin) and backup Joey MacDonald (back spasms) did not practice with the team on Friday. Howard did skate for a half-hour with goaltending coach Jim Bedard and is hopeful that he can return sometime next week. Ideally Id like to get a couple of good practices under my belt, said Howard about when hell be ready to return to the net. Ive never had anything like this before, so its all new for me. Like Lidstrom, Howard wants to err on the side of caution. He doesnt want to rush back only to find himself right back on the sideline again. Howard said that he didnt believe that he rushed back too soon from hes last groin injury, but with playoffs looming he wants to make sure hes completely healed. It hasnt been easy for Howard. After being on pace for an unthinkable 50 win season, the netminder has been hampered by first a broken right index finger and now a nagging groin injury, which is extremely tough on a goalie. Youre constantly using your groins (as a goalie), said Howard. It could be a problem, but Im not thinking about it like that. It felt really good skating out there today, so hopefully Im back out there soon. Its frustrating because you want to be out there competing with the guys. Its no fun sitting in the dressing room watching the games. MacDonalds return is still pretty much up in the air after he saw a back specialist on Tuesday and was diagnosed with a partial bulging disc. Hell have cortisone shot this coming Monday. Hopefully itll settle down (after the shot) and well go from there, said MacDonald. When I had my back before I had a shot and it worked, so Ive got to think positive. Even if the cortisone shot works, MacDonald will take most of next week resting allowing the disc to calm down. He (the doctor) was real positive. He doesnt feel there will be any surgery, said MacDonald. It doesnt feel that bad, it just that nerve thats kind of shooting. Once the pressure comes off that, it should be good to go. MacDonald said that if everything checks out fine after the shot, hell resume skating and should be ready for the playoffs. Franzen not ready, Kindl might be Babcock said that forward Johan Franzen (back spasms) is still not ready to return to the lineup. He (Franzen) twirled out there, but when I got on (the ice) he got off. So, that means hes not ready. Officially Franzen remains day-to-day, but it appears to be a mystery as to when hell actually return. Defenseman Jakub Kindl (strained oblique) appears set to go. Its now up to the coaches," Kindl told reporters following practice. "I was shooting hard, I was even shooting one timers and I was doing drills in the end just one-on-one and I didnt feel any pain. It felt good. Im assuming it will be better tomorrow Whether Kindl plays will be determined after Saturdays morning skate when Babcock will meet with the Wings medical staff. Well watch in the morning, Babcock said about whether Kindl will get the nod or not. In the end youve got to practice good enough to be ready. Babcock then quickly added, Nick did.
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