The Detroit Red Wings' defense is complete again.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will return to the lineup tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30, NBC Sports Network), after missing 13 games with a chip fracture in his left wrist.
“Timing is probably going to be a little bit off, but I'll try to do what I can.'' Ericsson said. “(A brace) is helping quite a bit, wrist protection I have, keeps it from extending my motion and rotation, so that helps me to prevent getting into those weak spots that maybe I wasn't as strong as before.''
He has been skating for several weeks after getting hit by a puck on Feb. 25.
“(Conditioning) should be good,'' Ericsson said. “It's always different, game-type situations, it's tough to (simulate) those, but conditioning wise and strength-wise I'm as good as I was before I got injured.
“I should be able to come back quickly and be ready for playoffs.''
Goaltending Jimmy Howard, as expected, will not play tonight. Coach Mike Babcock reiterated today that Howard will not start Friday at home against Nashville. He doesn't want Howard's first game back from a strained groin to be against the Predators.
“That (Friday) was the plan all along. but Coach has decided to go in a different direction,'' Howard said. “As a player I got to respect that.
“I hope he changes his mind, but I don't think that will happen.''
So Howard's first game back, in all likelihood, will be Sunday at home against Florida.
“Thought I was pretty good in practice,'' Howard said. “It's getting old just practicing, but it's part of the process. I'm feeling really good, we're going to do some more strengthening stuff today and hopefully it responds well, like it did the first couple of times.''
Johan Franzen returns tonight, after missing four games with back issues. Rookie Gustav Nyquist (goal, six assists in his past seven games) will remain in the lineup. Jan Mursak will be scratched.
Here is the Red Wings' lineup: