For the first time in eight games, the Detroit Red Wings expect to have winger Johan Franzen in the lineup tonight when they take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Wings expect Franzen to see time on their top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner and hope to see him return to his scoring form.
Franzen has been sidelined by a hip flexor injury, one of more than a dozen players to have missed time for Detroit this season. In his absence the Wings were on a five-game losing streak before getting a pair of big wins over the weekends. The Red Wings offense scored four goals against the Nashville Predators on Saturday while Jimmy Howard turned aside 33 shots to get his first shutout of the season. An offensive onslaught brought the Wings an 8-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
It doesn’t make sense to keep Franzen out of the lineup if he’s healthy because of his offensive potential. However, youngsters Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson have brought a spark to the lineup in his absence, and it will be hard to hold them out in favor of the veteran if he underperforms.
Franzen has managed three goals and nine points in 12 games this season, but continues to struggle with consistency. He has scored 57 goals for Detroit in the past two seasons, but tends to do so by scoring in bunches then going cold for long periods at a time. He still has yet to justify a lengthy, expensive contract with the team and needs to develop chemistry with the red-hot Brunner as soon as possible.