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Wings will be down pair on 'D' for start of road trip

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It appears the Red Wings will be short two veteran defensemen likely through the weekend.

Niklas Kronwall (knee) and Jonathan Ericsson (lower body) both look questionable to return for this weekend’s three-game road trip that begins Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Kronwall has been skating lightly on his own but took part in Wednesday’s practice for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery Jan. 19.
Kronwall liked how he felt Wednesday but isn’t committing to a return just yet.

“I don’t want to say too much right now, I’m just happy it went well today,” said Kronwall, who has missed 12 games. “Hopefully, it’ll be good tomorrow and we’ll just go from there. Otherwise, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and you get disappointed.

“Today was a real good day and let’s hope for another one tomorrow.”

Coach Jeff Blashill was pleased to see Kronwall on the ice.

“Nick looked good. It’s encouraging to see he’s making strides and getting closer to being ready,” Blashill said. “We’ll continue to evaluate it day to day.”

In terms of conditioning, Kronwall didn’t feel too far behind and said timing is the one area where he’ll continue to work on before jumping back in the lineup.

Being back in uniform and working with teammates made Kronwall’s day.

“It was just exciting to be with the guys again. You lose sight of that and take everything for granted,” Kronwall said. “When you’re out for a little bit, you get back the feeling about how much you enjoy it.”

Ericsson got hurt late in Friday’s game against Colorado and will miss his third consecutive game Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Ericsson is hoping to get on the ice for Friday’s practice in Ottawa and possibly returning to the lineup this weekend.

“We’re just taking this day by day,” Ericsson said. “I’ll be going on this trip. We’ll be gone five days, so I’m hoping it’ll get better each day and I’ll get the chance to play in one of these games.

“Missing games is more frustrating than anything for me. I’ll need a couple of games to get back into it again. I just don’t want to miss any games or practices. I want to get back on the ice quick as possible.”

Mrazek starting

Blashill said Petr Mrazek will get the start in net against the Penguins. No other changes will be made to the lineup.

Mrazek is coming off arguably his worst start of the season allowing five goals on 22 shots in Sunday’s 6-5 victory over Boston.

“We got the win, nobody will ever ask me how the game went, we won the game and now we have to get ready for the next one,” Mrazek said. “I’m excited to get back and every game different. Against Boston, everything went in both ways.

“The game is over and it’s a new day now.”