Zetterberg takes part in 30 minutes of practice; Babcock again reiterates how good having three days of practice was for this team

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice prior to departing for Boston to open the series with the Bruins on Friday.

Henrik Zetterberg skated with the team for roughly 30 minutes and took part in a number of the drills.

“I think today is just one of the steps that I have to take,” Zetterberg said. “I have to start skating with the team a little bit. I didn’t do that much but hopefully I can do more tomorrow.

“It felt good,” Zetterberg added. “It’s fun to be out there with the boys again and like I said I didn’t do that much today but the stuff I did felt good and I’m looking forward to next time.”

Zetterberg underwent successful surgery on Feb. 21 in New York to remove part of a disc which was rubbing against a nerve, which caused severe back pain.

“I think you just have to take it step by step,” Zetterberg said. “I got the medical team looking after me too and they will pull me out when they think it’s time but I think today I was probably out there for 30 minutes and tomorrow I have morning skate and hopefully I can get out there a little bit more and still feel good.”

Zetterberg has been sidelined since the Winter Olympics after playing just one game with Sweden.

He hasn’t ruled out possibly returning in the first round of the playoffs, but it’s more likely he’ll be back if the Wings advance to the next round.

“I think that time-wise we were shooting for round two if everything goes well,” Zetterberg said. “We’re taking it step by step here and day by day and increase intensity every day and hopefully in a couple days maybe I can do some more battling drills.”

Despite playing in just 45 of the Wings’ 82 games this season, Zetterberg finished tied for third on the team in points with 48 and led the team with a plus-19.

“I saw him at Nick Lidstrom’s retirement March 6 and he couldn’t walk,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He hobbled his way out onto the ice. Now he’s out there skating. That’s a long way in a short period of time. Anyone that’s been injured and off a good chunk of time when they arrive back they see how fast everything is. It’s hard. That’s the tough thing about injuries, even when you get the guys back they’re not themselves. They wear the same number, but they don’t do what they did because it’s just too hard.”

Zetterberg, 33, missed 11 games in December with a slightly herniated disc. He also missed two games in January due to it.

Zetterberg began having issues with his back in 2008, which made him miss the All-Star break.
In 2007, he injured his vertebra and missed several weeks.

Jonathan Ericsson skated on his own for about 25 minutes.

He’s been out since having successful surgery to stabilize his fractured finger and repair a partially torn tendon on March 19.

Babcock again reiterated how good having three days of practice was for this team.

“We needed to get some guys healthy,” Babcock said. “We’ve had seven D all year, but then most of the year someone has been hurt so we’ve been wearing on six D in practice and in games instead of having eight. That was good to freshen up that group. We had some that were bumped and bruised.

“The lower seed, the more detailed orientated they can be to close the gap is good as well,” Babcock continued. “We know Boston now, but you can throw that stuff out too because once the puck is dropped it’s whoever wants it the most in the end is going to win. That’s how it happens. A least we’re prepared.”

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