Detroit Red Wings: Moving on without Zetterberg

Yesterday Red Wings’ fans got the news we all feared. Henrik Zetterberg will be out for at least two months as he had to undergo surgery on Friday to remove part of a disc in his back that had been rubbing against, and irritating, a nearby nerve.

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In 44 games played, Zetterberg leads the team with 48 points, 16 goals and 32 assists.

The current time table will have Zetterberg reevaluated in 8 weeks. The same week the regular season will end. So, a return before the regular season ends is highly unlikely.

Now the question is how will the Detroit Red Wings move on without their captain?

Multiple Wings have to step up if Detroit has any chance of making it into the playoffs once again because Hank can’t be (easily) replaced. Not only will his absence leave a gaping hole in the offense, but his leadership in the locker room can’t be overlooked either.

New unsung leaders and heroes are needed. The candidates for the job opening are:

Top Tier: Ready for Action

Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Nikolas Kronwall

These are a group of players that know how to lead and are prepared for the long struggle ahead. Datsyuk, Captain Russia, looked back in form at the Olympics. The real test will be to carry that over to the smaller, more compact NHL ice rinks.

Alfredsson, Captain Ottawa, also looked great in Sochi and he knows a thing or two after being the captain in Ottawa for 14 seasons. Veteran experience has helped the Red Wings get through before, why should it be any different this time around?

Kronwall, Captain Sweden, rather new to the role but he has lead Team Sweden to the gold medal game after taking over for Zetterberg. A strong back line starts with Kronwall and without a credible defense finding more offensive power won’t even matter.

Middle Tier: Given the Right Circumstances

Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, Johan Franzen

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Pressure to perform between the pipes.

Not captains per say but these guys have the capability to make a huge difference. How much offense is needed on any given night will rely heavily on Howard. A hot goaltender makes scoring goals a lot easier.

Speaking of hot, Nyquist went into the Olympic break on fire (9 goals, 4 assists, in his last 10 games) but has since cooled off during Olympic play, even seeing his ice time get drastically cut. Watch out if Gus gets going again because it’s that kind of spark the Wings need moving forward.

Then there is Johan Franzen. The lumbering forward is expected to be back for the Red Wings next game in Montreal on February 26th. Although plagued with headaches and dizziness for the past month, Franzen still has the credentials as a streaky goal scorer.

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Tomas Jurco might not be back in Griffins’ sweater for a while now after Zetterberg’s surgery.

Low Tier: Flash in the Pan

Tomas Tatar, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Jurco

The speed and skills group can shift the course of the game in a blink of the eye. However, changing the outcome of a few games isn’t going to be enough. Changing the course of the rest of the season will take consistency between the four players. Something we have rarely seen all season.

Mystery Tier: Where have you been?

Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss, Todd Bertuzzi

The “it can’t get much worse” group has underachieved and struggled to live up to expectations. So, what better time to prove yourself as a valuable asset to the team then now? The opportunity to prove their worth is staring them directly in the face. Will they capture it, or let it slip? – Eminem.

The pride and joy of Detroit sports is hanging in the balance because without Henrik Zetterberg the record breaking playoff streak is in more jeopardy than it has ever been. In order to keep the tradition alive the Detroit Red Wings need to display a strong sense of team unity in the face of adversity.

We can only hope there is enough leadership, experience, and talent to make that possible.

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  • Curt Wiebe

    I personally think they can make the playoffs, but it depends is mule keeps playing like he did before he went down, and if Weiss can get into a solid groove. I also think with hank down that they need to make a deadline trade for offense, and to do it they have to shed salary. I personally think Samuelson will waive his clause now just to play on an NHL club, so I’d personally like if they traded for moulson from buffalo.
    Moulson – for a 1st round, 3rd round, Landon ferraro, and Samuelson (their cap hits are about identical)

    • http://isportsweb.com/author/eisen/ Alex Eisen

      The trade seems logical to me. More offense is needed however they get it.

  • 547984

    Oh, heh. Guess someone called “Weiss” decided to come back and we’ll see what he can do :P

    Anyhow I only see this as an increased probability that they make a trade at the deadline, agree with comment below. And they’ll probably need Datsyuk to play more of a sniper role like he did at the Olympics.

    • http://isportsweb.com/author/eisen/ Alex Eisen

      I really don’t expect anything out of Weiss, but he might surprise us. I mean we paid him all that money a little production isn’t too much to ask. :p

      And if Datsyuk plays like he did at the Olympics the Wings are still in good shape. But relying on Pavel is very risk especially when he isn’t 100% healthy.

    • Curt Wiebe

      Weiss was a great player in Florida, new team mates and system isn’t easy to adapt to. Maybe the time off will of helped just like when they benched smith n he watch kronwall play n he’s been way steadier n better ever since. Maybe weiss will see the system better n maybe he can become the secondary scoring we wanted from him. If him n Franzen can contribute consistently and they make a trade for a top 6 like moulding, vanek, gaborik or something than they should be able to make the playoffs than hopefully first round Z will make his return. A first line of Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Moulson does make me drool a bit. And if Moulson plays with Datsyuk he might sign long term