The Detroit Red Wings will begin their four-game western road trip without center Frans Nielsen, but that might not be the case for long.
Nielsen has missed the last two games dealing with the after-effects of a concussion suffered when he absorbed a head hit from Boston Bruins forward David Backes, for which Backes was assessed a three-game NHL suspension. But it would appear that Nielsen’s condition is rapidly improving.
“I don’t anticipate him ready tomorrow (at the San Jose Sharks),” Wings coach Jeff Blashill told Detroitredwings.com. “I anticipate him being ready for Thursday (at the Los Angeles Kings), but we’ll see. I think it’s good that he seems to be progressing fast here.”
Nielsen is also feeling confident that the end of his idling is near. He was able to skate with the team on Sunday and hopes to ramp up his on-ice participation during Monday’s morning skate.
“I had a hard workout yesterday and this was the first day on the ice, so I had three really good days now,” Nielsen said. “It’s going in the right direction. I’m not sure what the next step is. There’s still a few more steps before I can play.”
“It’s just a matter of passing all those protocols now. So I think hopefully tomorrow I can do some battle drills and get pushed a little bit, and see how I react to that. I’m feeling pretty good.”
This is the first concussion Nielsen has suffered in his career and it’s been a journey of discovery for him.
“I’ve never really had any issues before,” Nielsen said. “We played it a little safe to really make sure there was nothing. I haven’t really had any of the symptoms. I had a little bit of a headache. I wasn’t sensitive to lights. Right after, I just felt a little around my head, but not dizzy. I remember everything, no memory losses.
“I didn’t have any of those red flags. So I’ve kind of been OK, we think, but we played it safe.”
What does Nielsen’s impending return mean for Evgeny Svechnikov’s time with the Wings? Maybe nothing at all.
“We haven’t discussed anything like that,” Blashill said. So we’ll see. We’re going to play a game tomorrow and then we’ll see where everyone’s at before we make any decisions.”
Left-winger Svechnikov wasn’t recalled on an emergency basis. He was Detroit’s third of four allowable post-NHL trade deadline recalls, so he doesn’t have to go back to AHL Grand Rapids when Nielsen is healthy, and Blashill indicated he’d like to get more of a look at what Svechnikov can do.
“I haven’t played him enough probably yet,” Blashill admitted. “I played him nine minutes the first night, I played him five the other night. I’d like to get him more minutes than that.”
The onus for getting more minutes is also in the hands of Svechnikov. His play could demand that he be on the more often.
“He’s got to grab onto those minutes, when he gets them, to play him more,” Blashill said. “That’s part of this business. It’s not just being given stuff. You’ve got to make sure you grab it.
“I anticipate him seeing some more minutes the next game. Hopefully he feels more comfortable now where he’s ready to be able to excel and gain some more minutes.”
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