Wings Abdelkader returns to lineup after 7-game absence
Detroit — It was only two weeks, give or take a day, but it felt like a lot more time Justin Abdelkader had missed.
That's because the schedule was so condensed, leading Abdelkader to miss seven games with a shoulder injury before returning to the Red Wings lineup Tuesday against Columbus.
"That was rough, but I feel ready to play," said Abdelkader, who was enjoying one of the best starts of his career with seven goals and eight assists (15 points) in 24 games, a plus-6 rating, and team-high 57 hits. "It's been tough watching."
Abdelkader returned to the lineup playing 16 minutes, 28 seconds in the 1-0 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets. He was credited with two hits, raising his season total to a team-high 59.
Abdelkader has been skating with teammates during the last week, but wasn't cleared for any contact until late last week.
Abdelkader is likely to skate with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist.
Coach Mike Babcock was glad to have Abdelkader back in the lineup.
"He plays hard every night, it doesn't vary," Babcock said. "He gets in the forecheck, gets the puck back to the skill guys. He's good on the net.
"He's just a good hockey player."
Danny DeKeyser (upper body) also returned to the lineup after missing the last two games.
The Red Wings placed Stephen Weiss (shoulder) on the short-term injured list – he's able to come off Saturday — to accommodate Abdelkader being back in the lineup and keep defenseman Xavier Ouellet.
With Ouellet playing tonight, according to Babcock, defensemen Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff are healthy scratches.
Johan Franzen will miss tonight's game because of the flu.
Tomas Tatar (flu) returned to the ice Tuesday after missing Monday's practice but said he was never worried about getting the mumps, which has taken down 14 NHL players this season.
"I didn't feel good before the Toronto game (Saturday), I had the normal symptoms of flu, (stuffy) nose and cough, and took the day off yesterday," Tatar said. "I just stayed in bed and tried to get over it. I'm feeling better today.
"Something must be in the air because a lot of my friends are getting something. It was all just normal stuff, I took some pills and I'm feeling better."
But the mumps talk is a bit unnerving.
"It's a little scary," Tatar said ."We just have to be a little more protective and take better care of our bodies."
No one in the Red Wings organization has reported coming down with the mumps.