DETROIT -- Any progress is good for injured Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, and what the star did on the ice at Joe Louis Arena Thursday morning qualified as such.
Two days earlier, Zetterberg met with reporters after Detroit's practice and didn't sound upbeat about the prospect of getting back in time from an undisclosed lower-body injury to play in this Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Now, he's at least one step closer to making it happen after skating by himself on Thursday morning and taking part in light stickhandling and shooting activities. It was the first time on the ice for Zetterberg since he was injured in Carolina in an April 6 game.
"I was out there for 15 minutes, maybe," said Zetterberg, who missed the final two games of the regular season and Wednesday night's 4-2 Red Wings win in Game 1 with what's believed to be a knee injury. "It was fun to be out there (and) feel the puck again. I didn't expect that a few days ago, even though I didn't do, basically, anything out there -- just stickhandling, shooting and moving around a little bit."
Zetterberg, who was driven by golf cart to the Red Wings' locker room while wearing a bulky brace on his leg Tuesday, still played it cautious on Thursday when asked about the prospect of playing in Game 2 on Saturday after noon.
"Day by day," he said. "We'll see (how it feels Thursday)."
As for skating again on Friday, that will be determined by how his body reacts to the work he put in on Thursday.
"We'll see how it reacts after today," said Zetterberg, Detroit's leading point-scorer in the regular season. "It bumped up a little bit in the workout room today, too. (We) just have to see how it will respond and regroup tomorrow."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also left the door ajar as to Zetterberg's return timetable.
"There's always a chance," Babcock said, when asked about the Swedish star's availability for Game 2. "He's day-to-day."
The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.
— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres