The Detroit Red Wings will be playing for their playoff lives when they host the Anaheim Ducks in game six of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night, and they have never needed captain Henrik Zetterberg to step up more than they do now. With three of the games being decided in overtime, scoring will be key to the Red Wings’ chances of extending the series. Zetterberg has three assists but has not yet found the back of the net against Jonas Hiller, and he must find a way to turn in an impact performance to keep his team alive.
As the Red Wings faced an uphill battle to even make the playoffs, Zetterberg was one of the key forwards who elevated his game and kept the now-22-season streak alive. In five playoff games so far, he has three assists but no goals, despite owning the team lead in shots on goal (20) by quite a bit. He had two goals and one assist in five postseason games last year, as the Red Wings were eliminated by the Nashville Predators. Getting into the playoffs was nice, but a second consecutive first-round elimination isn’t going to sit well with fans in Detroit.
Zetterberg will be given every chance to succeed tonight, playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader. The Red Wings get Abdelkader back after the young forward served a two-game suspension for a hit in game three, and need a big night from their top trio. Patrick Eaves, who has played a good series so far, will sit out so Abdelkader can get back in the lineup. The Red Wings will also have Carlo Colaiacovo take Brian Lashoff’s place on defense, as coach Mike Babcock continues to try and find the right combination of players at both ends of the ice.
The playoffs provide a chance for the game’s greatest players to prove themselves on the biggest stage, and Zetterberg needs to seize that opportunity tonight and help the Red Wings force a decisive game seven.