Zetterberg returning from back spasms, expects to play Wednesday

Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, out since Jan. 21 because of back spasms, is expected to play Wednesday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

Zetterberg, who missed the last two games of last week's road trip to the West Coast, along with Sunday's All-Star Game, practiced with the team Monday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. He stayed out west instead of flying back to Detroit immediately after the road trip, and got a weekend's rest.

"Felt all right today," Zetterberg said. "I don't know how many days I've been off now, but it's been a few. Skated pretty good, so it's definitely going the right way."

Zetterberg, 27, who did not get on the ice during the weekend, did not go all-out in Monday's practice.

"I was kind of holding back a little bit in the end, but I think it's pretty natural to do that when you've been off for that many days," Zetterberg said. "Still got another day before we have to make a decision for the game. If it keeps going the way it's going, I'm real positive I'll play Wednesday."

Coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit-area media that even if Zetterberg decided he needed to rest a couple of more days, it wouldn't be a terrible thing, especially the way Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen have been playing.

"Pav has done an outstanding job, and now with the Mule [Franzen] playing in the middle, I think we're a deeper team and bigger team with him playing down the middle," Babcock said. "I'm going to continue to do that, whether Z's playing or not. All these little tests are good things for your team in the long run."

Zetterberg, who leads the Red Wings and is seventh in the league with 61 points (28 goals), missed last year's All-Star Game with a sore wrist. What is cause for concern is his recurring back problems. He missed the last 19 games of the regular season last year because of an inflamed disk. He also missed another five in late December 2007 because of back pain.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.