DETROIT >> Is he in or is he out for Game 4 Thursday night against the Boston Bruins?
That was the big question after Henrik Zetterberg skated lines for the first time since undergoing successful surgery on Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc which was rubbing against a nerve, which caused severe back pain.
From the sounds of things, probably not.
“The good thing is (the decision’s) not in my corner,” Zetterberg said after practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I’ve got to be cleared by the doctor. I’ve got to do all those exams. I’m just preparing myself to get into better and better shape, try and get as much game like situations as I can in practice. Today was a good day of that.
“This is just part of the process,” Zetterberg added. “The more I amp stuff up in the gym and on the ice now we just have to wait and see the reactions. If I don’t feel any setbacks or don’t feel anything bad that’s when I’ll probably start that conversation, but still this was the first practice I’ve really had where I’ve been in all the drills and skating a line.”
Zetterberg skated on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader.
The main reason he was able to skate on a line was because Pavel Datsyuk did not skate.
“Still taking it day by day, I still have to do some skating,” Zetterberg said. “This was nice. In the playoffs you rarely have any practices, game like practices or moments. Today was a good day of that. Hopefully I can get some more of those in here.
“It’s tough not to be able to play in the playoffs,” Zetterberg continued. “This time of the year you want to be out there. It was tough enough to watch the regular season, playoffs are even harder.”
Zetterberg began practicing with the team last Thursday.
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 have to feel ready to play,” Zetterberg said. “Today was a good step in practicing. We’re still saying round two, but we all know we gained a couple days. I can’t really say anything now. I’m just happy I had my first real skate and now we’ll see how I feel in the morning.”
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.
“It’s tough to find good practices in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said. “You don’t practice. You only play games. So one of these days you just have to make a decision. The conditioning you’ll get when you play games. It’s tough when you’re skating on your own because you won’t get the same thing. Once I feel good enough to see if I’m cleared that’s probably when I’ll be playing games. I’m going to have still go through a few more steps before I have that conversation.”
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.
“I think he’s looking great out there since he started skating,” Tomas Tatar said. “He’d be a big power boost for us. That would be really good and really helpful, but I don’t know how far away he is. I don’t have any updates. I just know he looks really good out there.”
“He’s our captain, our leader, huge boost,” Gustav Nyquist said. “I don’t have a timetable so I don’t know if it’s possible he’ll be back. I have no idea. But obviously it’s great to see him out there especially when you saw him in that much pain when he first got back from the Olympics. That’s not fun to see a guy you look up to and your leader being hurt like that. So it’s great to see him back.”