When he first came to prominence and earned a regular spot in the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup, his role was quite similar to that of former teammate Tomas Holmstrom; play hard in the corners, screen the goaltender, set up deflections. At 6’3 and 220 pounds, Johan Franzen is a perfectly-sized power forward, and has assumed the role left vacant by Holmstrom when he retired prior to the 2012-13 season. Franzen is the kind of player who works hard from the beginning to the end of every season, night in and night out. But it is in the postseason when he really comes alive.
Franzen’s points-per-game average in the regular season is roughly 0.60; in the playoffs, however, it’s 0.80. Who could forget Detroit’s second-round sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in 2008? Scoring hat tricks in Games 2 and 4, he finished the round with nine goals, the most by a player in any four-game series in National Hockey League history. He went on to break Detroit’s franchise record for goals by a player in one playoff year (previously 10), finishing with 13.
He has also shown a knack for scoring game-winning goals. On March 30, 2008, he broke Gordie Howe’s record for most game-winning goals in one month, which was previously five. On that night, with Howe in attendance to celebrate his 80th birthday, Franzen netted the game-winner to set the new record at six.
Although a few years have passed since his record-breaking spree, Franzen is no less of an offensive threat, especially at playoff time. His size and strength allow him to stay close to the net and screen the goaltender from oncoming shots, much like Holmstrom used to do. When he finds his rhythm, he is capable of not only shifting the momentum, but maintaining it as well. The bottom line has been proven year after year: the bigger the game, the better Johan Franzen plays.