By Ashley Dunkak
JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg made his return from back surgery sooner than expected. Originally slated to return for the second round of the playoffs, or maybe for a Game 7 of the first round, Zetterberg was announced in the lineup Thursday for Game 4 of the team’s series against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins.
Head coach Mike Babcock had revealed the possibility of Zetterberg’s return earlier in the day.
“Z told me that, when I asked him this morning, he said he’s going to the doctor, but because we were even talking about it, I put him on a line, I put him on a power play,” Babcock said Thursday morning. “The doctors decide, not me, and so I’m hopeful, but who knows. We’ll know at game time, after warm-up.”
Teammates, as would be expected, anticipated the return of Zetterberg, who had not played for the Red Wings since Feb. 8 after a herniated disk in his back flared up when he played for Sweden in the Olympics.
“Listen, Z’s captain for a reason,” Todd Bertuzzi said. “He carries a torch around here, and he leads by example. Obviously the guy’s done a great job while he’s been out, but at the same time it’s a huge hole when he’s not in the lineup. I think the power play’s going to be that much more effective and tougher to play against.”
While Zetterberg’s return had been a possibility Thursday, the exclusion of regular goalie Jimmy Howard from the lineup was totally unprecedented. The Red Wings announced Jonas Gustavsson would start, evidently because Howard has the flu.