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Offense With and Without Henrik Zetterberg

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of AP

Two goals in two games is not where the Detroit offense would like to be heading back to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. Although the Red Wings managed to win with only one goal in Game 1, they cannot win the series by winning three more games by that 1-0 score. Most every player has at least one thing to work on for Game 3, one simple solution fans are calling for is for Henrik Zetterberg to return to the lineup.

Zetterberg has been out since the Olympic Break following back surgery and has been skating with the team recently. Ken Holland previously said that Z (and Jonathan Ericsson) would be out for the first round and may be back for the second round. Fans are still hoping that they will make an appearance against Boston. I am one of those fans, but have reservation about Zetterberg returning possibly too soon.

Players play hurt in the NHL playoffs all the time. I’m positive that Zetterberg wants none other than to be out there with the guys and beat the Bruins. Team Doctors monitoring their patient and owners monitoring their investment may say otherwise. Zetterberg will return as soon as he can, but when exactly will that be? And when he does, what will happen?

Bad News (Bruins)-

  1. Too soon? Back surgery recovery is nothing to mess with. Zetterberg could not even get out of his bed after Sweden’s first game in Sochi. He was in a lot of pain before and needs to fully recover so nothing lingers.
  2. Bruins’ Defense. Boston features big, strong defense. Torey Krug may not fit that mold, but the rest do. Henrik likes to be a little physical while playing to get to the net. He will take a beating from Boston’s D that might aggrevate his back. Would it be worth it for Z to return for a few games, but hurt his back again?
  3. Someone comes out of the lineup. Who gets scratched if Zetterberg returns? Legwand? Miller? Jurco? If it was my guess, I would think David Legwand would be scratched first. Tomas Jurco had a great Game 2 and is playing a physical game against the big Bruins. He hasn’t done much offensively or on the power play, but neither have Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, or Daniel Alfredsson. Drew Miller may not be the most skilled player, but he has played well on the penalty kill. No matter who comes out, each has a reason to stay in and Mike Babcock will have a tough decision. The decision to play a healed Henrik Zetterberg is an easy one though.

Good News-

  1. More offense. Zetterberg’s return to the lineup obviously brings more offense. He won the Conn Smythe trophy in 2008 and almost led the team in scoring this season, despite missing nearly half of the games. His point-per-game scoring rate will help our sputtering offense immediately.
  2. Leadership. When a team sees their captain come back from injury and give his all, they will be inspired. The 2002 Red Wings did it for Steve Yzerman. It holds true for any level of hockey. When a captain returns to the lineup and shows more grit than anyone on the ice, the team will follow suit and play their hearts out for him. Z has that sort of respect in the locker room.
  3. Wake up others. Zetterberg’s return will create a competition to not be the one who is scratched. There are plenty of options at this point, so the boys will be on their game for Game 3. In addition, Zetterberg’s offensive skills will create room for others on the ice. It’s apparent when Pavel Datsyuk is on the ice that the Bruins leave others alone to neutralize him. In Game 2 when Datsyuk threw the nasty backhand sauce to a trailing Brendan Smith, the replay showed four Bruins within three feet of Datsyuk with two guys trailing wide open. Datsyuk can create offense and so can Zetterberg.

 

In the meantime, Detroit needs to learn to score and create offense against Boston without him. They have been doing it for most of the year anyway. If the Red Wings can dictate the pace, they can win and let Zetterberg rest up. Game 3 needs to be played like Game 1 for Detroit to go anywhere. Let’s see it, Red Wings.