The 2017-18 NHL regular season has not been kind to Red Wings’ captain Henrik Zetterberg. Unfortunately, his struggles have played a role in Detroit’s unravelling.
Henrik Zetterberg’s Struggles Not Helping Detroit
After instilling false sparks of hope amongst its fanbase, the Detroit Red Wings have been in a tailspin. Losers of six straight, the red and white are beginning to look more and more like the team we expected them to be. Now on the outside of the playoff picture, frustration has set in throughout the franchise and there is enough blame to go around.
To say that one thing is the cause of Detroit’s struggles would be foolish. This is a flawed roster, playing uninspired hockey. However, the Red Wings have always been able to count on strong performances from one particular player. That is until now, of course.
A Captain’s Strife
Since his inaugural season in 2002-03, Henrik Zetterberg has been a consistently reliable member of the organization that could be counted on to produce. Even at age 36, Zetterberg led his bottom-feeding franchise with 68 points last season. Now, one year later, Detroit’s captain has reached a bump in the road.
Twenty-six games into the year, Zetterberg has recorded four goals and 11 assists, giving him 15 points thus far. To be fair, the fifteen-year veteran has not been much of a goal scorer the past few season. In fact, Zetterberg has not recorded over 17 goals since the 2011-12 season. So the fact that he is on pace to post 12 to 13 goals this year isn’t that alarming.
Throughout his tenure with the Red Wings, Zetterberg has always been counted on as a strong playmaker. In 1026 contests, he has recorded 589 assists for Detroit. So far this season, he has posted 17. To be honest, the assist numbers aren’t bad and he could have more if his linemates were able to find the back of the net with more consistency.
What has been alarming this year is that Zetterberg is becoming a liability in terms of possession. At this point, we all know the importance of possessing the puck as it is directly related to the number of scoring chances a team has on a given night. In regards to Zetterberg, the Red Wings find themselves without the puck more often when he is on the ice. This, of course, means that the opposition is generating more scoring opportunities than Detroit when the captain is on the ice.
At age 37, it is not shocking that Zetterberg’s numbers might decline. However, if he cannot help his team in the possession game, he becomes a risk every time he comes on for a shift. This is something that simply cannot continue if the Red Wings want to win games.
Age Catching Up To Henrik Zetterberg
As I mentioned before, Zetterberg is no spring chicken. It is obvious his best days are behind him and it’s surprising we are only witnessing an obvious decline now.
Unfortunately for the Red Wings, he is on the payroll until the summer of 2021 and currently has plans of playing out the contract. There is no telling what a 40-year-old Zetterberg will be able to offer and his north of $6M cap hit makes him close to untradeable.
As of right now, if Zetterberg continues to struggle, so will the Red Wings. Not only now but in the future as well.