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Zetterberg returns to Wings' practice

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Zetterberg still has hopes of returning to action soon, though his return is more likely to occur should the Red Wings reach the Atlantic Division finals. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has skated on his own over the last week but Thursday he joined his teammates on the ice prior to the team’s Thursday afternoon flight to Boston where Game 1 of their Atlantic Division semifinal series kicks off Friday at TD Garden.

“I think today is just one of the steps that I have to take,” said Zetterberg, who underwent back surgery on Feb. 21 to remove some of the herniated disk . “I have to start skating with the team a little bit and it was fun to be out there today and didn’t do that much but hopefully I can do more tomorrow.”

Zetterberg skated for approximately 30 minutes and participated in most of the team’s line drills but avoid those that involved physical contact.

“You just have to take it step by step,” he said. “I got the medical team looking after me too and they will pull me out when they think it’s time but I think today I was probably out there for 30 minutes and tomorrow I have morning skate and hopefully I can get out there a little bit more and still feel good.”

Zetterberg hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning for the upcoming series with the Bruins, though he reiterated Thursday that a return to the lineup is more likely for a Round 2 series.

“Time-wise we were shooting for Round 2 if everything goes well,” he said. “Increase intensity every day and hopefully in a couple days maybe I can do some more battling drills.”

Something Zetterberg hopes he can do in the coming days is to ramp up his conditioning levels.

“I’ve been doing more stuff in the gym and on the bike but it’s different to go out and skate. It’s basically training camp all over again,” he said. “I’ve been out for two months and that’s basically what a summer is for us normally so it’s just going and getting used to everything. … Only difference is your first game is the playoffs, not Game 1 of the regular season.”

As for getting the captain back in the lineup anytime soon, coach Mike Babcock was a little more cautious as he’s always been with injuries.

“I saw him at Nick Lidstrom’s retirement March 6 and he couldn’t walk,” Babcock said. “He hobbled his way out onto the ice. Now he’s out there skating. That’s a long way in a short period of time. Anyone that’s been injured and off a good chunk of time when they arrive back they see how fast everything is. It’s hard. That’s the tough thing about injuries, even when you get the guys back they’re not themselves. They wear the same number, but they don’t do what they did because it’s just too hard.”

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