February 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) during the game against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Henrik Zetterberg Is As Hot As He's Ever Been

By that, I mean his play on the ice in 2013. I’ll leave an evaluation of the captain’s rugged good looks to the ladies.

With another two-point afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, Henrik Zetterberg ran his season totals to 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 12 games. Granted, that number is inflated somewhat by his amazing hat trick plus two assist outburst against St. Louis on February 1, but it’s still impressive work.

If Zetterberg can keep up his current pace of 1.5 points per game (and he stays healthy enough to be in the lineup every night), he’ll end up with a line like this: 20 G – 52 A – 72 P. In a full 82-game season, that would translate to 123 points, blowing away his career high of 92 points in 2007-08.

No one is suggesting that Hank is going to maintain this kind of scoring the whole way, but a few things make me think he can and will turn in his best offensive campaign at age 32:

  • He kind of needs to

Zetterberg has had the good fortune to play on teams with plenty of offensive talent for the first part of his career. Injuries and a lack of depth mean that’s simply not the case with the 2013 squad. Exactly two goals have come from bottom six forwards (one each for Cory Emmerton and Dan Cleary, and Cleary has spent some time on the second line), and the blueliners have six goals combined.

The captain will shoulder a heavier offensive load out of necessity. It’s as simple as that.

  •  It’s easier to stay hot over a short season

This is mostly common sense. There are obvious disadvantages to playing a shorter, more compressed schedule, but the flip side is that it’s easier to stay locked in on offense over four months than it is over seven.

(At least I’m guessing it is. My longest offensive hot streak in roller hockey lasted about two games.)

  • The lockout seems to have agreed with him

Before one of the games, Zetterberg hinted at this himself. The lockout gave him more time than usual to recover from the previous season, yet still provided him the opportunity to play in Switzerland to stay sharp.

The fact that he played alongside Damien Brunner, the player he’s set up on more than one of his assists, was an added bonus.

Or maybe it’s just the calendar hitting Zetterberg’s favorite month, as he’s historically done some of his best work in February. In February and March of 2006, Hank put up eight goals and seven assists in nine games. The next season, he may have had his finest month ever in a Red Wings sweater: 13 goals and 12 assists in 11 games in February 2007.

Heck, maybe he’s drawing on the power of past captains, Highlander-style, having it flow into his body through the ‘C.’ Whatever the cause, Zetterberg is on a roll, and it’s going to be fun seeing how long he can keep it up.

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