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Duffer’s Dabbles: Red Wings Vrana, Stecher Drawing Closer To Return

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Troy Stecher, Detroit Red Wings
Both injured forward Jakub Vrana (shoulder surgery) and defenseman Troy Stecher (wrist surgery) are back practising with the Red Wings.

Partaking in line rushes at Detroit Red Wings practice on Thursday, forward Jakub Vrana has been medically cleared for shooting and stickhandling.

Out all season due to shoulder surgery, he’s as close to playing in a game as he’s been since Vrana went under the knife. However, he’s still not that close.

“He’s making progress,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “The next step is to come put and be part of the team skate, both him and Stech.”

Stech being defenseman Troy Stecher. He’s been on the shelf since Nov. 4. Stecher underwent wrist surgery.

While they may still be a long way from suiting up for a game, their mere presence on the ice was a bright spot for a team still licking their wounds from Wednesday’s 8-5 home-ice loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s nice to see those guys back with us,” center Michael Rasmussen said. “It’s been a long few months for them both, kind of just skating by themselves, working hard to get back in shape.”

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That last factor, Blashill assessed, might be the hardest part of rehab – the emotional toll of not really being part of the team.

“I think there is a mental side of it that is extremely important for those guys,” Blashill said. “It’s lonely when you’re just doing stuff on your own and boring and frustrating.

“So for them to join practice, that’s a big boost for them. It gives them energy in their rehab and I think that’s important.”

The team isn’t expecting either player to suit up for a game before mid-February at the earliest.

Red Wings GM Leaves Them Laughing

Detroit GM Steve Yzerman had everyone in stitches when he joined the NHL on TNT panel during the first intermission of Wednesday’s game.

Also, veteran forward Justin Abdelkader was released from his pro tryout with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins to accept a position as an alternate with the USA Hockey Olympic team.

Around The NHL

Pittsburgh: The Penguins, playing host to the Red Wings on Friday, were 2-1 home-ice losers to the Seatle Kraken in overtime on Thursday.

Boston: As far as the Bruins are concerned, the punishing check delivered by Boston forward Taylor Hall that broke the nose of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was a clean hit.

Colorado: MacKinnon is expected to miss Friday’s game at Chicago due the injuries he suffered from the Hall check.

Vegas: The Golden Knights welcomed back forwards Max Pacioretty (wrist injury) and Reilly Smith (COVID-19 protocol) on Thursday. However, Vegas still lost 4-1 to the Florida Panthers.

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