Eight days off helped heal the injured.

Johan Franzen is no longer a facial-scarred "Franzen-stein," and his tender ankle is improving daily. He participated in his first full skate Wednesday. Henrik Zetterberg got the minimum three weeks required for significantly mending a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his knee. Anytime the skaters can take a couple of deep breaths during the grueling playoff grind, it's most appreciated.

But eight days off doesn't necessarily help a goalie. Rest easily can morph into rust.

Jimmy Howard admitted getting a little antsy waiting to see whom the Wings would face in the second round. Idle time lets the mind race, and you don't want your playoff goalie thinking too far beyond the immediate task at hand.

The Wings' next challenge is a second-round rematch against San Jose.

Howard must step up big-time in another defining moment in the second-year starter's evolution.

"When isn't it a defining moment for me?" Howard said Wednesday, breaking into a hearty laugh. "Whenever I turn around, it's a defining moment for me."

He points to Chris Osgood's empty cubicle to his right.

"That guy is still proving himself," he said, "and he's got three Cups."

Howard will be tested more against the Sharks, who are more offensively balanced than Phoenix, but also because it was San Jose that bounced the Wings in the second round last season in five games. Goaltending wasn't the reason for that failure.