I suppose that Bill Shakespeare wrote a run-on sentence or two. Michelangelo surely must have dabbed on orange when he meant to use red. Somewhere there exists a can of film showing Sir Laurence Olivier flubbing a line.
Ted Williams had a down year once, although a pinched nerve in his neck was the main culprit, not the curve ball.
So given all that, it’s easier to abide Henrik Zetterberg scoring a measly 23 goals last season.
Zetterberg, the Red Wings’ destructive left winger from Sweden, is a player next to whose name you write in 30 goals, at least—before the season starts. It’s never a prediction, it’s just telling the facts ahead of time.
Prior to the 2009-10 season, Zetterberg and 30 goals were hockey’s peanut butter and jelly.
Hank’s goal total for the previous four seasons went like this: 39, 33, 43, 31. Power play goals read 17, 11, 16, 12.
But then came ’09-10, and it was like Zetterberg’s soft hands got left out on the counter and became hard.
Twenty-three goals? Zetterberg can score 23 goals by the All-Star break in a good year. He can pump pucks into opposing goals like a roofer with a nail gun.
It gets worse. Of Zetterberg’s 23 goals last season, only three came with the Red Wings enjoying a power play. You heard me.
Maybe it was all a case of crooked shooting. Zetterberg’s shots on goal total in 2008-09, when he scored 31 goals, was 309. Last season, it was…309.
Same number of shots, eight fewer goals, and nine fewer power play tallies.
If the Red Wings are to return to territory with which they’re very familiar, i.e. hockey in June, they need Henrik Zetterberg to be, well, Henrik Zetterberg.
All last season, Zetterberg was slightly off. He never quite found his rhythm. Then injuries hit the Red Wings harder than a M*A*S*H* unit, and Z maybe tried too hard to lead the team offensively. He was Henrik Zetterberg in name only.
But it was a diluted, watered down Zetterberg. He was Pavarotti singing with a head cold.
Zetterberg is one of the Red Wings who marveled at all the spare time they had this summer, what with being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring. He got married, spent some time in Sweden, and to hear him tell it, he was looking at his watch the whole time.
“It’s like, after awhile, I couldn’t wait to get back to Detroit and back to hockey,” Zetterberg told the media last month of his longer-than-usual summer, and his time spent in his native country.
The Red Wings need Zetterberg to shake off last season’s truncated output and be the straw that stirs the drink. Or, since this is hockey we’re talking about, he needs to be the spoon that mixes the slush.
Coach Mike Babcock plans on putting Zetterberg back on the same line as center Pavel Datsyuk, rather than keeping them split up. Both players like the idea, and why not? It’s fun to play with the puck and not letting the other team have it.
Babcock can reunite Zetterberg and Datsyuk because the Red Wings’ forward depth chart is an embarrassment of riches. The coach can hoard his two superstars on the same line because lines two through four would never be mistaken for chopped liver.
So being back with Datsyuk, alone, should increase Zetterberg’s production.
As talented as the Red Wings are up front, they still need that catalyst. Think the Lakers without Magic Johnson, the Yankees without Derek Jeter.
With Zetterberg humming along in high gear, the rest of the Red Wings’ forwards should be all that much better.
Some players would be thrilled to have “23” listed under their stats column that says GOALS. Zetterberg looks at 23 like a Democrat looks at Ann Coulter.
Twenty-three goals? Zetterberg can score that many with one hand tied behind his back. It’s a small number for him, one that ought to embarrass him. The three power play goals are a Scarlett letter.
But they all had a down year, the great artists and superstar athletes.
Note that I didn’t pluralize that.
Zetterberg had his.
Goalies, we now return you to your regularly scheduled nightmares.