After missing the first 11 games of the season, Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall is set to make his return to the lineup this evening.
Kronwall is battling a left knee that is said to be permanently bad, which held out of the entirety of training camp. The biggest hurdle for him to overcome is pain management, but he says that he is ready to go.
“It’s been feeling good now for the past few weeks,” Kronwall told the Detroit Free Press after this morning’s skate. “I’ve skated harder and harder and more and more. I’m at the point where it feels like I’m ready. I had a good test Tuesday with a full practice and felt good. I shouldn’t have any limitations out there at all.”
“He hasn’t played in a while so we just need him to come in and manage his minutes and slowly get him into playing at this high a speed,” said head coach Jeff Blashill.
Kronwall’s defensive partner at the skate this morning was Brendan Smith, and he also saw time with the power play unit. With his return to the lineup, it appears that youngsters Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul will both be out.
In a slightly reduced role last season, Kronwall appeared in 64 games while potting three goals and adding 23 assists.
After riding the highs of a six game winning streak, the Red Wings have dropped their last three, although they did pick up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. “Urgency to play at a high level is extremely important,” said Blashill. “I thought we played with urgency last game in Philly. We’ve got to finish the game when we have a lead like that. We’ve got to make sure our urgency is high for 60 minutes here tonight.”