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Zetterberg practices with Red Wings, return uncertain

by Dan Rosen

DETROIT -- After participating in a full practice and taking line rushes Wednesday, injured Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg neither confirmed nor denied his availability for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series on Thursday against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D).

Zetterberg said he has to be cleared by team doctors and as of Wednesday afternoon he wasn't planning to visit with them before Game 4. He said he's still eyeing the second round for his potential return and that the late start to the Red Wings-Bruins series helped.

Detroit and Boston were the last teams to play Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.

"I have to feel ready to play. Today was a good step in practicing," Zetterberg said. "We're still saying round two, but we all know we gained a couple of days. I can't really say anything now. I'm just happy I had my first real skate and now we'll see how I feel in the morning."

Zetterberg skated on a line with Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader in practice, according to Detroit coach Mike Babcock. Forward Pavel Datsyuk was absent, tending to his wife, Svetlana, who recently gave birth to a baby girl.

Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall missed practice because his girlfriend was in labor. Datsyuk and Kronwall are expected to play Thursday, according to Babcock.

"The good thing is [the decision] is not in my corner, I've got to be cleared by the doctor," Zetterberg said. "I've got to do all those exams. I'm just preparing myself to get into better and better shape, try and get as much game-like situations as I can in practice. Today was a good day of that.

"As soon as I get the go-ahead that I'm healed and the disc is good, then I'll think about coming back."

Zetterberg hasn't played for the Red Wings since before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

He played one game for Sweden at the Olympics but left the tournament early because of a back injury. He had surgery to repair a herniated disc on Feb. 21.

Zetterberg and Babcock said they have not talked about when he'll be able to return.

"I've been thinking about him for, I don't know, how long has he been out, eight weeks?" Babcock said. "So it doesn't matter what I think about him. We have doctors here that decide that, so they'll let us know. If he's available, he'll go."

Zetterberg took contact Wednesday, which is another step in his recovery. He is hoping to participate in the morning skate Thursday.

"It's tough to find good practices in the playoffs," Zetterberg said. "So one of these days you just have to make a decision."


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