Red Wings' Jimmy Howard visits doctor

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who broke his index finger Feb. 2, visited a doctor Wednesday morning for an update.

The conclusion is that his return to the lineup will depend greatly on how much pain he can tolerate. The chances of re-injuring the finger by playing are slim, Howard said.

Howard skated Wednesday but didn't take any shots from teammates. He hopes that changes by the end of the week.

"Every single day the finger is getting better," Howard said after the morning skate. "Ideally, I'd really love to have a couple (practices) where I get in there and have a couple good practices before I can get back out there. It's been seven days now, the timing can go a little bit."

Before the injury, Howard was enjoying a breakout season. He played in his first All-Star Game and, with a record of 32-11-1 with a .924 save percentage, has helped the Red Wings climb to the top of the league standings.

Detroit has lost two straight since beating Vancouver -- the game in which Howard suffered the broken finger -- which doesn't make sitting out any easier.

"It's frustrating because I want to be out there with the guys," he said. "I enjoy being out there, I love the competition."

Craig Custance is a senior NHL writer for ESPN The Magazine.