The Detroit Red Wings saw their 5 game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss to the Sharks at the Joe. Even though they allowed 40 plus shots and 4 goals, Detroit continues to play some of their best hockey as they have all season long. Danny Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk have returned from injury and are playing well on a line together with Jiri Hudler and there is more good news on the horizon as Mike Modano will soon be back in game action as well. How soon you ask? Very soon, as Modano will suit up Saturday night in a road affair against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Livonia native has been out since November 26th, when a skate blade cut his right wrist tearing tendons and causing nerve damage against the Blue Jackets. The 40 year old forward was not sure that he would play in the league again; letting on when the injury happened that he did not want his career to end like this. “There’s still some nerve issues there,” Modano, who will center Detroit’s third line and man one of the points on the second power-play, said of his wrist and hand. “That total sensation isn’t back, and that’s going to be a long time, but the strength is there. It feels good shooting. As far as getting involved in traffic and guys pushing on it, it feels good. The big test is Saturday.”
Of course with the forward back, the question now becomes who will sit on a given night and the answer is multiple players. When the season started there was a so called “healthy scratch” rotation that Mike Babcock was using and I would assume that he would go back to that, however it might look a little different. Before the rash of injuries, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Jiri Hudler were the odd men out on certain nights. Now with Hudler playing so well, the rotation will probably now feature Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader.
The Wings are also looking forward to the return of Valteri Filpula who has been out with a sprained MCL and Chris Osgood who is recovering from hernia surgery. Filpula is set to come back at the end of the week while Osgood could be back in action by the end of next week when the Wings are on their West Coast trip. “(I’m) pretty fired up about it,” Osgood said. “(I’ve) been out long enough. When you sit and watch, everybody jokes around about your (400th win) ceremony, saying that I was retiring—and that wasn’t the case. So I’m pretty fired up about getting back on the ice to play again.”
When Detroit is finally back to full strength as far as injuries are concerned, they will be back to being one of the deepest teams in the NHL. How deep you ask? Well, Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen will continue to be the first line followed by Datsyuk, Cleary and Hudler playing on the 2nd unit, meaning that Detroit has unreal quality on their third line in Modano, Filpula and maybe even Thomas Holmstrom of Darren Helm. Consider that Mike Babcock will then be left with Miller, Eaves, Draper, Abdelkader and Helm or Holmstrom to play on the fourth line and I will say it again, that the Wings are the deepest team in the NHL. With players like this, I wouldn’t say anything less than a cup would be a disappointment, but anything less than the conference finals would for sure bet! Don’t you agree?