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After seven-game absence, Filppula returns to Detroit lineup tonight

Filppula 2

The offensively-starved Detroit Red Wings will get a nice boost on Wednesday as Valtteri Filppula returns to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 24.

Filppula, 28, has been shelved with a shoulder injury since the Wings trounced Vancouver 8-3 two weeks ago. Prior to that, he wasn’t producing at last year’s clip but was a big part of the Detroit offense, scoring 4G-6A-10PTS in 19 games while averaging close to 18 minutes a night.

The Wings, meanwhile, have scored just 10 goals in the seven games without Filppula in the lineup.

This promises to be an important stretch for the Finnish center. He’s in the final season of a five-year, $15 million deal and, with Ryan Getzlaf re-upping in Anaheim, could be one of the most prized centers on the open market -- if he gets to market, that is.

Filppula posted career highs in goals (23), assists (43) and points (66) last season and the Detroit Free Press reports the Wings “do want him back.”

But much will depend on how he plays down the stretch.

Detroit’s facing a number of UFA decisions -- Jimmy Howard, Damien Brunner, Dan Cleary, Drew Miller, Ian White -- and is also in a dogfight for the playoffs, currently one point up on Minnesota for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference.