The Detroit Red Wings are hanging on to the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot by a hair. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to try and keep it without the help of their captain.
Henrik Zetterberg has been diagnosed with a herniated disc, which resulted in the Swedish forward undergoing surgery on his back to repair the damage. For all intents and purposes, it looks like Detroit is losing Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season. The tentative recovery time for this surgery is about eight weeks, so if Detroit does make the playoffs, there’s a possibility he could take the ice again this year.
That said, the Red Wings have to make the postseason without their leading scorer, which anyone can tell you is no easy feat.
Zetterberg leads Detroit in points by a sizable margin, with 48 overall compared to Pavel Datsyuk’s 33. The majority of his points come from his 32 assists, a level of play-making the Wings are going to miss something awful. With the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals all a point away from stealing Detroit’s playoff spot, the team will need to figure out how to handle this severe blow as quickly as possible.
This is nothing new for the Red Wings this year, as they’ve been decimated by injuries. The Olympic break was supposed to be a chance for the team to heal up and be ready for the final months of the season. Instead, they found out they’ll be a captain-less ship for the remainder of the year.
The deck just got stacked enormously high against Detroit, as Zetterberg joins a list of walking wounded that also features Johan Franzen. While Franzen hopes to return to action next week after recovering from a concussion, will that be enough to help the Wings survive without Zetterberg?
Only time will tell, but make no mistake; one minor losing skid could all but unravel this team. For Detroit’s sake, they better hope and pray they have enough skill and grit to endure such a significant hit. Otherwise, one of the NHL’s postseason mainstays may be watching playoff games from home.