By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg, who has been out since the Olympic break with a back injury that required surgery, could return by the second round of the playoffs or perhaps even late in the first round series against the Boston Bruins.
“We’ve got, actually, two extra days still,” Zetterberg said Tuesday. “We thought we were going to start Wednesday, we start Friday, so we’ll see. It’s still a lot of things that’ve got to fall in place, but up ’til now everything went well. Each phase of my rehab has been good. Now hopefully Thursday I’m going to skate a little bit with the team.
“We were shooting for Round Two, but as I said, we’ve got two extra days here now, so if it’s before that, I will be happy,” Zetterberg added. “It’s still a ways away, but I’m doing well. I’m happy to be back.”
Zetterberg began skating by himself last Tuesday, but Thursday will be the first time he skates with the team, and that will give him a better idea of whether he will be able to play in games.
“I need to skate. I need to practice. That’s what I’m going to do,” Zetterberg said. “You can do a lot of stuff in the gym – you can run, you can jump. But once you go on the ice, you have a pair of skates on you and you have other people around you, so I think that’s going to decide a lot.”
Not too long ago, it appeared as though the Red Wings might not be able to keep the season going long enough to give Zetterberg a chance to get back. Just like last year, Detroit had to scrap to get into the postseason, a feat they accomplished a little bit sooner this time around, extending the team’s playoff streak to 23 years.
“It is amazing that we kept the streak going,” Zetterberg said. “A lot of people didn’t believe that going in before the Olympic break and definitely not after the Olympic break, but we found a way, and that’s what we do.”
If Zetterberg finds a way to get back into a game during the first round series against the Boston Bruins, he might find himself skating against 6-foot-9-inch, 255-pound Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. It could be a tough test for Zetterberg, which would be an interesting turn since Chara is a friend of Zetterberg’s who helped him out after Zetterberg exited the Olympics early when his back flared up.
“Chara’s actually the guy that helped me with my back in the Olympics, so he’s a part of this rehab,” Zetterberg said with a laugh. “When we flew home from Olympics, I was walking out and I had a backpack with me, and he said, ‘You’re not carrying that,’ so he carried it for me.
“It’s going to be fun if I be able to play and play against him,” Zetterberg continued. “Obviously he’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and he’s a great guy.”
Accordingly, Boston is one of the best teams in the league. The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy and is a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. However, the Red Wings are 3-1 against Boston this season.