Zetterberg skates for first time since head punching

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Henrik Zetterberg might be back for next Wednesday's game against the Rangers.

San Jose – The most interesting development of the Red Wings' morning skate Thursday occurred in the final few minutes.

That's when Henrik Zetterberg got on the ice and began a brief, 10-minute workout, the first time Zetterberg has been on the ice since getting punched in the head Saturday in Dallas.

Zetterberg has been troubled by "symptoms" since then, such as headaches.

"I had hoped to be back in a few days, but obviously it's fun to be able to be on the ice again, to be allowed on the ice again," said Zetterberg, who was to miss his third consecutive game Thursday night against the Sharks. "I just have to see how I respond to his and go from there.

"It's a step, and hopefully I can do more tomorrow."

Zetterberg feels better than he has since getting hit by Dallas forward Jamie Benn.

"Feel better than I did last time we talked (Tuesday), and hopefully I'll be better the next time we talk," Zetterberg said. "I have a little bit of (symptoms) but it's better.

"We had a discussion, all of us (trainers, coaches, doctors), about what I could do today and decided I could be out there for 10 minutes and skate around a little bit. We'll see how it goes.

"I was just out there for 10 minutes, shot the puck and skated a little bit. It was nice to get a little sweat going and be on the ice."

So when will Zetterberg be capable of returning to the Red Wings lineup? Coach Mike Babcock optimistically threw out Wednesday's game against the New York Rangers, but Zetterberg is taking a conservative approach.

"I'm just thinking about tomorrow, what I can do tomorrow," Zetterberg said. "I haven't really thought about (next week). I'm just thinking day to day."

Zetterberg wasn't the only injured Red Wings player returning to the ice. Kyle Quincey (ankle) took part in the morning skate, returning to the ice for the first time in a week.

"We could use them," Babcock said.

Rebuilding battle

The Red Wings and Sharks have played some critical regular-season and playoff games recently, but are rebuilding on the fly with different results.

The Red Wings have been more successful with their young prospects — in the playoff race in the East — while the Sharks have struggled — out of the race in the West.

"It's about (keeping) good players up top," Babcock said. "When you don't have good players up top, you rush your players, that's just the facts. So it's easy to say you're going to do it like the Red Wings, but when the guy in the minors is better than the guy in the NHL, you're going to play the guy in the minors, it's just real simple.

"We've had enough players that we haven't had to (bring up prospects before they're ready). Ideally we'll do that again, so we can keep them down there a little longer."

Tomas Jurco is one player Babcock believes would have benefited from a longer stay in the minors.

He's "a guy who has been with us (all season), maybe he should have stayed longer (in the minors); that's just part of the process."

Jurco entered Thursday's game with 14 points (two goals, none in 28 games) in 47 games.

Ice chips

Quincey will continue to skate and practice and will re-enter the lineup when the Red Wings feel he's ready to play.

Quincey has bone chips in his ankle that will require surgery at some point, he and the Red Wings hope after the season.

…Teemu Pulkkinen had one goal in his 10 games but was getting chances.

On Thursday, Pulkkinen converted during a power play, and almost had a second goal later in the game that hit the post.

"I was feeling I had chances but I'd been unlucky," Pulkkinen said. "It was good to get one and get the confidence up and the second one was close. It was good."

…Sharks veteran forward Patrick Marleau (13 goals, 31 assists) is catching heat from Sharks fans for the dip in his offensive numbers but Babcock can't understand why.

"If you don't want him, call us, he's a good player," Babcock said of Marleau, who was on Babcock's gold medal-winning Canadian Olympic team and had a power-play goal Thursday against the Red Wings.