Clutch Playoff Performance Nothing New To Henrik Zetterberg

By James Taylor III
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When the chips are down and the game is on the line, few players rise to the occasion better than Henrik Zetterberg.

The Detroit Red Wings’ all-around superstar showed again on Friday night why he is one of the most clutch players the NHL has to offer.

With his team down 3-2 in their best of seven series with the Anaheim Ducks, Zetterberg once again stepped his game up. The veteran Swede had two goals and an assist, including the game-winner in overtime to force a Game 7 Sunday night in Anaheim.

Just as people started to question Zetterberg’s scoring touch, he scored his first two goals of the series when the Wings needed him the most.

Zetterberg now has six points in six games this series, adding to his staggering career playoff numbers. Zetterberg has 53 goals and 108 points in 115 playoff games. Since he came into the league in the 2002-03 season, no player has more playoff points than Zetterberg. He has also now scored a goal in all 20 playoff series he has played in.

Zetterberg’s strong play and leadership revved back up during the last week of the regular season, as he had 10 points in the Wings’ final four regular season games. The Wings needed to win all four games just to make the playoffs, and they did largely because of the play of their captain.

Coming into the match-up with the Ducks, a lot of attention was being paid to each team’s leading scorer, Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Getzlaf. Both Datsyuk and Getzlaf have made their impact on the series, while Zetterberg and Corey Perry have had their offensive struggles the first five games. Perry remains on the schneid with no goals and numerous missed opportunities, while Zetterberg responded with a monster game with his teams back against the wall.

Zetterberg is a member of the exclusive triple gold club, having won a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold and a World Championship. He also has a Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the 2008 playoffs, so his big night in Game 6 against the Ducks comes as no surprise.

With everything on the line in Game 7 Sunday night, expect another big effort from the NHL’s best playoff performer. Zetterberg has already played in numerous Game 7’s during his illustrious career so the big lights of a winner take all game won’t affect the Wings’ captain like it would other players.

With 16 points in his last 10 games Zetterberg has once again shown that he plays his best hockey when the stakes are high. The stakes don’t get any higher than a Game 7, so look for the man they call Hank to once again rise to the occasion and propel his squad to the second round.


Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks

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