For a majority of the 2000s and 2010s, there hasn’t been a more consistent player to don the winged wheel than Henrik Zetterberg. The 37-year-old Swedish captain of the Detroit Red Wings was a top-20 player in the NHL during his prime in the mid-to-late 2000s. Although not the captain at the time, he had always showed a leadership and poise that made him the clear choice to succeed Nicklas Lidstrom following his retirement as captain of the Wings. When Z underwent back surgery towards the end of 2014, it appeared that his productivity would be waning. While he was still able to be among the team’s leading scorers in 2015 and 2016 it looks like finally, Detroit has Zetterberg showing hsi age.
Henrik Zetterberg Showing Age for Detroit Red Wings
Up to this point in human history, Father Time has a perfect record. While he may look to be bested at times, he always finds a way to come out on top. At age 36 last season, many thought that Henrik Zetterberg would serve as a mentor for the teams young players and not much more. To the surprise of nearly everyone, he led the team in points. He also recorded the most points in a season personally since the 2011-12 season. He looked healthy and productive, playing in every game last season. It looked like Henrik Zetterberg showing age wouldn’t end up happening.
Unfortunately, he may have been simply postponing Father Time, and not truly defeat him. This season he is on pace for only 46 points. That would be 33% fewer points than he recorded last season. Points, however, can be a somewhat misleading stat.
Possession metrics such as Corsi paint an even clearer picture of the struggles that Z has faced this season. Last season he had a 52.2 Corsi For percentage and a 5.4 Corsi Relative percentage. This season those numbers are 47.2 and -3.4 respectively. The Corsi Relative numbers are especially troubling. Corsi Relative measures a players performance compared to his teammates. The Red Wings are struggling, so seeing a player under a 50% Corsi would be expected and could be partially attributed to the overall team play. However, Zetterberg’s Corsi Relative shows that he is lagging behind his teammates in this area.
Zetterberg also making uncharacteristic errors
Henrik Zetterberg has always been known as a player with an incredibly high hockey IQ. He would always make the smart play to help the team and help out when others missed their assignments. This hasn’t been the case this year and it was perfectly highlighted last night. In the video, Zetterberg makes crucial errors on the second and third Boston Bruins goals which ultimately lead to another Red Wings loss. He was slow to react on a cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand which lead to a David Pastrnak game-tying goal. Then in overtime, he was playing too far up and was caught out of position when Gustav Nyquist lost his footing in the corner and allowed the Bruins a two-on-one chance that Marchand buried top shelf.
When the captain and leader of your team is making poor decisions and being caught off guard like Zetterberg has been lately it is clear why the team has won only one game in their last 11 contests.