Henrik Zetterberg: Why His Low Numbers for the Red Wings Are Misleading

Nicholas DiFrancoContributor IIIMarch 26, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 21:  Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his goal at 3:36 of the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Henrik Zetterberg is a premier player in the NHL. He has been selected for two NHL All-Star Games, has been nominated for both the Calder and Selke trophies, and is a Conn Smythe winner, Olympic gold medalist and most importantly, Stanley Cup champion.

In all his recognition through awards, he is often overshadowed by point-getting powerhouses such as Sydney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and even his playmaking dazzler teammate Pavel Datsyuk, for league-wide recognition.

Maybe it is the powerhouse shadow, or maybe it is his solemn hardworking attitude; either way, Zetterberg has been allowed to silently average over a point a game since 2005.

This season, however (barring no Sam Gagner games), Zetterberg will fall well short of that point a game mark. In the 75 games he has played in this season, Zetterberg has totaled 62 points with 21 goals and 41 assists.

These numbers are drastically misleading.

Zetterberg went through a well-documented slump beginning at the start of the season where he accumulated 35 total points through the end of January—a slump that also saw 23 games with a single goal.  

During this time, his frustration on the ice was understandable and obvious. His patented backhand shot was failing him. His shots per game dipped and the bad bounces were piling up.

Zetterberg finally reemerged as his old self in the beginning of February when he posted three assists against the Edmonton Oilers. Quickly proving this was no fluke, Zetterberg went on to end the 13-game month with 16 points.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and a second slump began. This was not just Zetterberg’s slump, however; eight players of the starting lineup went on the injury list.

Zetterberg remained at the high level of play the Red Wings are accustomed to, but considering the call-ups of a very inexperienced supporting cast, Zetterberg and the team suffered.

Currently with goaltender Jimmy Howard in and out of the lineup, captain Nicklas Lidstrom appearing in his first game since bruising a bone and Zetterberg’s Euro-twin brother Datsyuk also back on the ice, the regular lineups are starting to look normal again. Zetterberg’s stat sheet also reflects this.

Zetterberg is back to his old ways—back to the way he knows how to play. Back to being one of the teams point leaders.

His season's stats may show something less, but make no mistake: heading into the playoffs, Henrik Zetterberg is still the same All-Star he always has been.