Zetterberg’s surge could be sign of things to come

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Philadelphia — Henrik Zetterberg hasn’t been the offensive force he was last season.

But, he’s getting closer to that level.

Zetterberg’s three assists in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders put him tied for second on the team with 23 points. Dylan Larkin, who also had three assists against the Islanders, leads the team with 27 points.

In the last four games, Zetterberg had seven points (one goal, six assists).

And, in coach Jeff Blashill’s estimation, the best could be yet to come.

“Historically, Zetterberg always has been better in the second half of the year,” Blashill said.

That was certainly the case last season, as Zetterberg led the team in scoring and played his best hockey, arguably, after the holidays.

Blashill feels the types of games that are played late in the season are conducive to Zetterberg’s strengths.

“Part of that reason is the games get tighter and harder and he outcompetes people,” Blashill said. “That’s the just reality of it. His competitiveness is so high, and as the games get tighter and harder, and as they (referees) call less penalties and there’s more hooking and holding, and all that stuff happens as the year goes on, he always gets better.

“He has since the day I was an assistant here and he continues to. His competitive level is great. We’re going to need him to get hot.”

Zetterberg always has been considered one of the game’s great leaders and it showed through last season despite the struggles the Red Wings endured, seeing their 25-year playoff streak end.

Young players continue to marvel at Zetterberg’s presence, both on and off the ice.

“He’s been playing great; he’s our leader,” Larkin said. “He does it right. He played a great game (against the Islanders). We’re lucky.

“Times are tough, and our leader stepped up the last four games. As a young guy, and guys like Mo (Anthony Mantha) and Double A (Andreas Athanasiou), we see that and everyone on the bench sees it.

“It goes a long way for us young guys.”


Staying put

The Red Wings will continue to hold training camp in Traverse City.

Centre Ice Arena, where training camp and the Prospect Tournament preceding the camp are held, will undergo rink renovations mandated by the NHL, which put the future of the events in doubt.

The renovations will cost approximately $220,000, according to UpNorthLive.com, plus $20,000 in annual maintenance fees.

Renovations to the two rinks at Centre Ice are expected to begin in May 2018 and be completed in early June 2018.

Ice chips

Playing the back end of the back-to-back Wednesday in Philadelphia, the Red Wings decided to not have a morning skate.

… Forward Martin Frk ended an seven-game goal-scoring drought Tuesday, converting a goal-mouth pass from Jonathan Ericsson.

Frk missed eight games with a groin injury, and hadn’t scored since Nov. 9.

“He’s a guy who doesn’t complain about his role,” Larkin said. “He goes out and does it.”

… Goaltender Petr Mrazek won his first game since Nov. 5, by defeating the Islanders, stopping 34 shots.

“One thing Petr has been about is finding ways to win,” Blashill said. “We need depth in this locker room and a lot of guys going. It adds to our depth when he plays at that level.”