It’s primarily been the Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk show for the slumping Detroit Red Wings thus far this year, with each star putting up 23 and 22 points respectively in 21 games. Barring injury, both players are on pace to put up 90 and 89 points each. Despite impressive numbers from both men, the Wings have dropped seven straight games, though five straight losses have come in overtime. Zetterberg and Datsyuk have been desperate for secondary scoring all season long, with Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss not living up to scoring expectation.
With the return of Darren Helm and the injury to Stephen Weiss, however, Franzen has suddenly caught fire with five points in the last three games (three goals, two assists).
Darren Helm’s return and subsequent promotion to the second line with Franzen has seemingly sparked a Detroit offense that sits at a mediocre 2.6 goals per game. Helm brings a level of speed, power, and skill that Stephen Weiss, who was signed this past offseason to a five-year, $24.5 million deal, hasn’t been able to bring. Helm has three points in the last three games, and has proven effective with Franzen on the second line thus far.
That pairings success, however, is directly predicated on Johan Franzen’s ability to stay hot and keep scoring. Franzen has always been known as a streaky, inconsistent scorer, but will be relied on more heavily this season if Weiss can’t find consistency or chemistry with his new Detroit teammates.
I’ve always believed that Franzen could be a 40 goal scorer if he could stay consistent. His days of being able to live up to that expectation are limited, however, as he’ll be turning 35 years old next month.
If the last few games are any indication of things to come, Franzen may have finally began one of his infamous scoring streaks, and not a moment too soon. Look for the Red Wings to end their slump if Franzen can stay hot and provide the much needed secondary scoring that Captain Z has been so hungry for.
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