With the Detroit Red Wings trailing 2-1 in their first-round series against the Boston Bruins, they’ll go into tonight’s Game 4 with their captain and one of their best players in the lineup for the first time in two months.
A source close to the Red Wings said Henrik Zetterberg has been cleared to play tonight, after missing the last 30 games (including playoffs) and all but one game of the Olympics with a back injury. The source said Zetterberg will likely play only “limited minutes,” somewhere in the range of 10 to 12, but even that will be a massive upgrade for a Red Wings team that is reeling with injuries and has been outscored by the Bruins 7-1 in the past two games.
Zetterberg had 48 points in the 45 games he played before going down with the back injury after one game for Team Sweden in the Olympics. He returned to Detroit from Sochi and underwent back surgery Feb. 21 with no set date for a return.
Zetterberg practiced Wednesday on the Red Wings top line in place of Pavel Datsyuk, who missed practice because his wife was giving birth, but said he would not rush back into the lineup.
The Red Wings can use Zetterberg’s offense, but also his puck possession skills and leadership on a team that has six regulars playing in their first NHL playoffs. In Game 3, the Red Wings were already without regulars Jonathan Ericsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Cleary and Stephen Weiss. Alfredsson missed Game 3 with an upper-body injury and it is not yet known whether he will be available for Game 4.