Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 3 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) will play Thursday night.

He has been out of action since he pulled out of the Olympics with a back injury. Zetterberg required surgery for a herniated disc and he's returning ahead of schedule.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 3 Months

Henrik Zetterberg is on the lineup sheet for the Red Wings for Thursday's contest.

His status for Game 4 won't be confirmed until after the warmup, but it's looking probable that he'll play. Zetterberg skated with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader during the team's morning session.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 3 Months

Updating a recent post, it sounds like Henrik Zetterberg will be a game-time decision for Thursday night.

Coach Mike Babcock said he was "hopeful" that Zetterberg would return for Game 4, but he won't know the status of his captain until after the pregame warmup. Zetterberg is slated to have a doctor's appointment after the morning skate.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 3 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) took part in Wednesday's practice.

Zetterberg wouldn't offer a prediction on whether or not he would play on Thursday. Detroit could certainly use him after falling behind 2-1 in its series against the Boston Bruins. That being said, if Zetterberg returns for Game 4, it would be a bit earlier than expected.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) skated for about 30 minutes on Thursday.

"You just have to take it step by step," he said. Zetterberg hopes to resume contact drills before the end of the week. He reiterated that he probably won't be ready to return during the first round of the playoffs.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) hopes to return for the second round, if the Red Wings make it that far.

It would certainly be challenging for Detroit, given that Boston is its first round opponent. That being said, Zetterberg hasn't been completely ruled out for the first round, so there's always a chance that he'll be able to help out if the series goes deep.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) is expected to skate with his teammates for the first part of practice on Tuesday.

GM Ken Holland has already ruled out Zetterberg for the first two games of Detroit's first-round series against Boston. "He appears to be right on track for the original time frame," Holland said Monday. "He's skated a little bit on his own, and now he wants to see how he feels going up and down the ice with the guys, maybe do some light shooting." If he doesn't suffer any setbacks then he probably won't be ready to return unless the Red Wings advance into Round 2 of the postseason.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) resumed skating on his own this week.

It's still hard to say when he'll available to play again, though. "Until he is practicing with the Red Wings, we really don't know," GM Ken Holland said. His initial timetable was set at eight weeks and that is still two weeks away from happening. Zetterberg could return late in the first round of the playoffs or in the second round depending on how deep the Red Wings make it. He hasn't played for Detroit since Feb. 8 after he got hurt in the Olympics while suiting up for Sweden.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg (back) is expected to start skating next week.

Zetterberg won't be back before the end of the regular season, but he might be able to contribute to Detroit's probable playoff run. Given that the Red Wings are likely to make the playoffs despite losing Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk for significant portions of the campaign, it will be interesting to see how they do in the first round if they get both of them back. They're one low seed that could pull off an upset.

Henrik Zetterberg LW DET 4 Months

Henrik Zetterberg spoke with reporters on Wednesday and he's feeling better since undergoing back surgery.

"Feeling much better, thank you," he said. "Obviously, it was a struggle there for a bit. But last two weeks has been much better." He won't be allowed to skate with any kind of contact until at least one day after the playoffs begin. The Red Wings are battling for a wild card spot and Zetterberg believes he can play again this year if his teammates can snag a postseason berth. "That's the goal," he said. "I want to play hockey again this year, if the rehab goes as planned. I've been moving a lot more the past two weeks, but just have to take it step by step. So far, no hiccups and it's just got to stay that way."