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Two Bruins witnessed Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg’s darkest injury hours

The game-day post is packed to the gills with news regarding Red Wings captain's Henrik Zetterberg's highly likely return to the Wings' lineup in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins this evening (again, 8 PM start, not 7:30, on FSD/NESN/NBCSN/TSN and 97.1 FM), and the post contains oodles of video and other place-setting storylines as well...

But you may recall hearing that Henrik Zetterberg returned to North America from the 2014 Olympics on the same NHL-chartered plane as the Slovak Olympic team, and that Zdeno Chara ended up carrying Zetterberg's suitcase.

The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke with Chara and Bruins forward/Team Sweden Loui Eriksson about Zetterberg's fateful exit and then departure from Sochi due to a back injury which required a "discectomy," 2 months' worth of recovery, and is now hopefully ending with something of a classic, "Sports team captain returns from major injury during playoffs, rallies team from deficit" storyline:

As the two captains of their national and NHL teams left Sochi, Zetterberg went to reach for his backpack only to be told by Chara that he wouldn't let him carry it. Zetterberg recently called Chara part of his rehab.

"He was obviously in severe pain," Chara said Thursday. "Just tried to help out as best I could."

Two months ago Chara did his part in helping Zetterberg, but now the Boston Bruins defenceman will likely be tasked with trying to stop the Detroit Red Wings forward in his return. All signs point to Zetterberg playing in Game 4 Thursday as the Red Wings try to tie their Atlantic Division semifinal series at two games apiece.

...

Zetterberg last played an NHL game Feb. 8 and reinjured his back while playing for Sweden at the Olympics. He managed to get through just one game before the herniated disk forced him out for the remainder of the tournament.

"He wanted to go there and play," Swedish teammate and Bruins forward Loui Eriksson said. "He was in his room all the time after the first game. It's tough."

After taking some extra time in Sochi to rest his back, Zetterberg flew home on the charter flight that left following the quarter-final round. He underwent surgery Feb. 21 and knew he'd be on the shelf for a long time.

Whyno continues, speaking with Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, Wings coach Mike Babcock and Bruins coach Claude Julien about Zetterberg's return, and he also notes that Babcock said that he lost sleep about his decision to replace Tomas Jurco in the lineup with Todd Bertuzzi, and that Babcock hopes to see Daniel Alfredsson back in the Wings' lineup on Saturday.

Here's Babs' presser, all 5-and-a-half minutes of it, from the Wings' website:

Babcock's most surprising remark?

TSN's Sherri Forde asks Babcock about Johan Franzen's struggles, saying that he hasn't spoken with them, and Babcock reacts as follows:

Forde: "Franzen has been quiet so far in this series, and he hasn't talked to the media, so we haven't asked him about his play..."

Babcock: "He hasn't talked to you because you haven't asked him, or?"

Forde: "No, we've asked..."

Babcock, quietly: "Oh..." (then he took a drink of water, which is usually a, "Hmm" moment.

Then he discusses Franzen's need to get going alongside the Wings' younger players.

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Comments

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Watching those 2 goals allowed by Fleury yesterday was another reminder how much better we would have been playing against the Pens.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/24/14 at 02:10 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

Watching those 2 goals allowed by Fleury yesterday was another reminder how much better we would have been playing against the Pens.

The thing that would have worried me about that matchup is the Wings’ defensive deficiencies. The Penguins may have been able to light them up on the scoreboard (although the Wings likely could have returned the favor).

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 04/24/14 at 02:26 PM ET

DrewBehr's avatar

Just noticed Babcock’s shirt: “Detroit Red Wings - Western Conference”

Oof.

Posted by DrewBehr from The Mitten on 04/24/14 at 02:37 PM ET

Avatar

The Penguins may have been able to light them up on the scoreboard (although the Wings likely could have returned the favor).

It’s possible, but it still will be a much better matchup. Babcock is very good at schemes to neutralize the star players and Pens are not that deep as Boston. And also our forwards will have to deal with Letang and Co vs Chara and Co.
Plus Rask just does not give you any gifts like Fleury and Howard do.
I think our chances against the Pens would have been 40-60, so we could have taken them. And then Montreal with Z and Eriksson coming back. And by the third round Boston might have had couple of injuries to their big guns. Obviously all this does not matter now, but just shows that every game during the regular season is actually important.

Posted by VPalmer on 04/24/14 at 02:58 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.