Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Franzen expected to be ready to go

Categories: DET vs. PHO, First Round

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Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings will be ready to play for the first game of round two.  (Dave Sandford/Getty Images) Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings will be ready to play for the first game of round two. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings took another step closer to a 100 per cent healthy roster Tuesday, as forward Johan Franzen returned to practice.

Franzen, who missed Game 4 of Detroit's opening-round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes with a left ankle injury, skated in full gear and participated in drills for about 20 minutes before leaving the Joe Louis Arena ice surface.

"I'm feeling better, Franzen said. I went around a little bit to see how it felt. No hitting, though. It's a little bit better every day.

"I did a little bit yesterday, a little bit more today. Hopefully, I'll go even harder tomorrow."

With the Wings anticipating a Thursday start to their Western Conference semifinal series against either the San Jose Sharks or Nashville Predators, Franzen wouldn't commit fully to his participation in Game 1, but Wings coach Mike Babcock was more bold in his prediction.

"We'll see how he does, how he responds and go from there, but I think he's ready for Game 1," Babcock said. I"f he needs one more game, then he'll get one more game. He'll play if he's ready, and if he's not, he won't. It's that simple."

"My anticipation is that he's going to play. I've been wrong before, but I think the Mule's going to play."

Waiting Game

Even though their next opponent is down to two possibilities, the Wings still won't know their destiny until Game 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks concludes Tuesday night.

"We know it's going to be Nashville or San Jose, but I don't think it really matters," Detroit forward Jiri Hudler said. "We know each other right now. It's been a long season, 82 games. Everybody knows what to expect. You've just got to get prepared, get focused on doing your job starting with the first game."

The Wings are quite familiar with the Predators, their Central Division rivals, and have battled San Jose in the second round of the playoffs in two of the last three springs.

"There's not a lot of secrets," Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. "Nashville plays in our division, so we play them quite a bit. San Jose, we had a big series with them last year."

The teams have changed a little bit, but the majority of both teams remains the same.

Miller Time

While Wings forward Drew Miller will intently watch the Canucks-Blackhawks game, he'll also be glued to Game 7 between Buffalo and Philadelphia, to see how his brother, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, fares in his bid to continue in the playoffs.

The two talk frequently, though these days, their conversations tend to take place in cyberspace. "A lot of it is through texting, because our schedules are off", Drew Miller said. "My games are on the days he's not playing".

"We talked before the playoffs. I think they got a boost with the new owner (Terry Pegula) coming in and the confidence that gave them when he said he wanted to have a good team. At the trade deadline, I think it gave them a boost bringing (Brad) Boyes in. It gives them a little bit more offence and adds a little more to their power play with (Derek) Roy out. Hopefully, they can keep it going here and make a move in the East".

Killing Spree

The one sour note from Detroit's opening-round sweep of the Coyotes was a Red Wings penalty kill that operated at a dismal 66.7 per cent, 15th-best among the 16 playoff teams. Improving that unit has been a focus of practice the last two days.

"They scored three off entries and they got a five-on-three goal", Babcock said. "I didn't like what we did and felt we didn't have the same kind of puck pressure that we've had when we've been real good.

"We've worked a lot on it the last few days. We're going to be ready to go and we're going to be very aggressive".