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Extra off-days gives Zetterberg hope

Red Wings' captain hopes to be available for later in first-round series with Boston

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 2:46 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Extra off-days gives Zetterberg hope

Henrik Zetterberg still has hopes of returning to action in the Red Wings first-round series with Boston. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Red Wings-Bruins series doesn’t get underway until Game 1 Friday in Boston, the last of the eight opening-round series to kick off the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.

But starting a day or two after everyone else might be beneficial for Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who is still recovering from discectomy surgery in February to remove material from a herniated disc that caused excruciating pain in his lower back.

Originally, the Red Wings though the first-round series with the Bruins would begin Wednesday or Thursday, but the Boston Celtics have their final home game of the NBA season on Wednesday.

The unexpected delay gives Zetterberg a few extra days to prepare with an eye on returning later in the series.

“We were always shooting for Round 2, but we have two extra days now,” said Zetterberg, who has been skating on his own for a week. “If it’s just before that I will be happy. It’s still a ways away. I’m doing well, happy to be back skating here.”

The plan is for Zetterberg to minimally skate with the team Thursday before he travels with them later that day to Boston and ramping up his activities in the days ahead. Still, no timetable for his return to the Wings’ lineup has been established.

“I haven’t skated a lot. This phase, being on the ice more, skate more, being involved more with the team is going to decide when I come back,” Zetterberg said. “It’s impossible to say now if it’s Round 2, if it’s before or after that. There’s a lot of things that need to happen, but so far everything has been good and we just have to keep taking it day by day.”

Zetterberg finished the regular season with 16 goals and 48 points with a plus-19 rating in 45 games. He last played for the Red Wings in their 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Feb. 8.

With Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk out of the lineup for significant stretches, nobody gave the Red Wings a chance at reaching the postseason. However, since the Olympic break, young players from the team’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids arrived and made a big difference, helping the Red Wings post a 13-8-3 record to squeeze into the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season, extending the longest active streak in North American professional sports.

“I’m very proud. Just seeing the guys stepping up, different guys stepping up every night,” Zetterberg said. “It’s amazing we kept the streak going. I don’t think a lot of people believed that going into the Olympic break and definitely not after, but we found a way. That’s what we do.

“It’s an amazing streak. You want to keep that alive, but in the same way we want to do more than keep the streak alive. Keeping the streak alive and then going home after the first round isn’t fun.”

While most injured players keep a low profile around the team during their rehabilitation, Zetterberg had a hard time keeping his distance from the locker room during and after home games.

“In the regular season I tried to stay away as much as I could,” he said. “We still have a lot of leaders in this room, core guys that have been around. Now that I’m around, part of the skates and travel with the team and then hopefully be playing later.”

Zetterberg admits the toughest part of his recovering has been watching games on TV but that is coming to an end soon, he hopes, and he wants to contribute to the team’s goal of winning another Stanley Cup.

“There are worse things that I could watch,” he said. “You want to be playing. It’s a process. I’m looking forward to that. Today we had our first playoff meeting. This is the best time of the year. When you go through the regular season this is where you want to be and we’re here now. We’re facing a really good team and we have to play good hockey to move on.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89