|Abdelkader to return as Red Wings host Flames|
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings get left winger Justin Abdelkader back and the Calgary Flames begin a six-game, 12-day road trip with a question in goal when the teams meet at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night.
The contest is a rematch from Thursday when the Flames defeated the Red Wings 6-3 at the ScotiaBank Saddledome in Calgary. That was when Abdelkader suffered a broken cheekbone in a fight with the Flames' Troy Brouwer that caused him to miss Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Detroit.
Abdelkader, who at 6-2, 214 pounds provides a physical presence, has two goals and nine points in 17 games this season.
"Certainly, having Abby back gives you another guy who's hard at the net, which we need him to be," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told www.mlive.com. "He's a commodity on this hockey team because of the size and skill package that he brings. Certainly, he's a big factor for us."
Abdelkader will wear facial protection for the next 6-to-8 weeks after being cleared to play by a specialist on Monday.
"I'm lucky that it's not a displaced fracture," he said. "It's still in alignment. It could be worse. Obviously, it's a frustrating injury anytime that happens, but definitely fortunate too."
The status of Calgary goaltender Mike Smith was up in the air. He did not travel with the team to Detroit, according to the Calgary Sun. He left Monday's 7-4 victory over the St . Louis Blues in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
Smith has started 16 of Calgary's 17 games this season and is 9-6-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
The win over St. Louis -- in which backup goalie Eddie Lack got the win in relief -- concluded a seven-game homestand, in which the Flames (10-7-0) went 5-2-0.
"Having all four lines contribute is big for our confidence," Flames center Sam Bennett told calgaryflames.com. "We knew we could generate offense from all four lines. It wasn't a matter of if, but when."
Now the Flames hope to keep it going on the road, where they haven't played since Oct. 25, during their longest trip of the season.
"This one's what, 12 days. Honestly, I think it'll be good for us," right winger Michael Frolik said. "We've got a couple of team-bonding events planned, a team dinner and a Dallas Cowboys' football game that breaks up the routine.
"Those kinds of things are important because it can get, well, boring, same old, same old, if you're away a long time.
"We've been home for a little while here, though, so it's good for the guys to get away and we've played pretty good on the road this year (4-2)."
"This road trip is huge for us," Bennett said. "We've got to come out on top at the end of this. We know how important it is."
Detroit (8-8-2) will be without rookie right winger Martin Frk and defenseman Dan DeKeyser while left winger/center Darren Helm is questionable.
Frk has a groin injury that could sideline him for up to a week and DeKeyser will miss his 16th game with a hairline fracture of his ankle. Helm did not practice for the second day in a row with an undisclosed injury.