Steve Sullivan needs time.

The Nashville Predators' veteran forward is close to returning from a groin injury, which has kept him out of action for more than a month. It just is going to take just a little longer — probably until next week — until he is ready once again to play in games.

The 36-year-old does not want to wait too much longer, though. He also needs time to get himself into shape for what he expects to be the franchise's next playoff appearance.

"You don't want to come back with five or 10 games left in the season and then try to get in shape and think you're going to be ready for the playoffs," Sullivan said Wednesday morning. "To be even with these guys and back to playing at the same level, you're going to need quite a few games to kind of get back in shape. And then you want to get comfortable out there.

"Me coming back in the next week is the goal, and I think by doing so it will give me a lot of time to be ready."

That means he will not play Thursday night when the Predators play the Eastern Conference's top team, the Philadelphia Flyers on the road (6 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) or Saturday at home in the first of two games in five days against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee).

When it comes to dealing with this particular injury, though, Sullivan speaks from experience. Groin troubles are nothing new to him.

"I've had groins my whole career," he said. "I think that's why it's chronic now. I think … it pulls and then it just won't go away because it's been in that state for so long. I need to try to break that cycle."

The game at Philadelphia will be the 18th straight he has missed. That makes his the second-longest sustained absence this season for Nashville, a team which has faced more than its share of injuries. Only Matthew Lombardi, out since Oct. 14 with a concussion, has missed more time.