DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will be a game-time decision Thursday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D).
Forward Daniel Alfredsson (upper-body injury) will miss his second straight game, and forward Todd Bertuzzi will make his 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, replacing Tomas Jurco in the Red Wings lineup.
The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.
Zetterberg hasn't played for the Red Wings since Feb. 8. He had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on Feb. 21, and has repeatedly stated he would not be able to return until the second round.
However, Zetterberg participated in the morning skate at Joe Louis Arena and was on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader, an indication he could play in Game 4. Zetterberg went to see the team doctors after the skate.
Zetterberg said Wednesday he would have to be cleared by the doctors before he could play. If he does, it's likely forward Joakim Andersson will come out of the lineup.
"When I asked him this morning he said he's going to the doctor," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Because we were even talking about it I put him on a line, put him on a power play. The doctors decide, not me. I'm hopeful, but who knows. We'll know at game time, after warm-up."
Babcock said Detroit's trainers told him Alfredsson could be ready to go by Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden in Boston. Babcock said Alfredsson is feeling better.
"Could you throw him in the game? Probably," Babcock said. "He hasn't practiced in a while. We don't really know. We're trying to put the best lineup on the ice to help us win."
Bertuzzi will start the game on Detroit's third line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Jurco was in that spot, but Babcock said he didn't like how the line was going, so he's looking for Bertuzzi to use his big body to give the Red Wings an inside presence, something that has been lacking for the past two games.
"I'm hoping that one veteran player can help them out," Babcock said. "In saying that, we're taking out Jurco, who has great speed and plays real well. Why would you do that? That's a good question. I asked myself that a hundred times [Wednesday] and then before I was trying to fall asleep I started thinking about it again, so I didn't sleep well. I don't know. I'm trying to do the right thing."
He's hoping the right thing includes penciling Zetterberg into the lineup. Babcock isn't sure what Zetterberg will be able to bring on the ice, but having him should be a big boost to a team that needs one.
"I can expect him to provide great leadership, both in the room and on the bench. If we get nothing else, that's good enough," Babcock said. "But I think he's pretty competitive and he's been working at it. When you have back surgery they don't let you come back early. The doctors and him have a plan. He's been skating a lot, done some bumping. He feels he's close, that's why he's going to see the doctor."
Abdelkader said he thought Zetterberg looked great Thursday morning.
"He's been looking really good for the last while," Abdelkader said. "It would be a huge boost getting our captain back unexpectedly. Hopefully he's ready to go."
Center Darren Helm said Zetterberg's presence in the dressing room and on the bench would give the Red Wings someone to follow.
"He's a big-time leader," Helm said. "You know he might not be Hank, the old Hank, but he's going to give it everything he's got. He's going to lead by example. On the ice, emotionally he's going to give it all. Guys are going to follow that."
Here are the projected lineups, provided Zetterberg is able to play: