Despite a multitude of injuries throughout the season up and down their roster, the Detroit Red Wins extended their playoff streak for another year and will battle the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the postseason beginning Friday. The real story for the Wings was the play of their young guys, namely Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tata, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco – especially in the absence of veteran forwards Pavel Datsyuk, who missed significant time with knee problems, and Henrik Zetterberg, who only played in 45 games for the Wings due to a back injury but still finished third on the team in points with 48.
But Zetterberg is hoping the kids can help the team stay alive a little bit longer so he can see game action again this season.
The team announced today via their Twitter feed that Zetterberg, who had back surgery during the Olympic break and hasn’t played since, plans to practice with the team on Thursday with hopes of returning for the second round.
“There are still a lot of things that need to fall in place,” Zetterberg said Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “Up until now everything in the rehab has gone good. Now, hopefully, Thursday I’ll skate a little bit with the team and keep making progress every day.”
The Wings may have caught a lucky break with their series against the Bruins starting two days later on Friday, instead of Wednesday or Thursday when the rest of the league starts playoffs. The extra two days of rest and rehab could go a long way toward Zetterberg returning perhaps late in the first round, if the Wings can make it that far. But his status will remain uncertain until he undergoes a few hard practices with contact.
“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.”
The Bruins won the President’s Trophy for the most points during the regular season with 117. While the Wings won the season series 3-1, the Bruins have four of the top five plus-minus players in the league on their roster, and goaltender Tuukka Rask led the league in shutouts, and was one of the best goalies in the league this season. Game one of the Bruins vs Red Wings will take place in Boston on Friday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.