Feb 27, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings right wing Johan Franzen (93) skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Red Wings defeated the Senators 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Is Johan Franzen Hitting His Stride?

The next person who comes up to me and says, “I can’t believe Johan Franzen had a hat trick last night!” in a completely shocked tone will be getting an earful (of words or fists, their choice).

In Thursday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Franzen had a hat trick. In Wednesday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, Franzen had an assist on both Red Wings’ goals.

It’s like people forget about his five-goal game against the Senators in 2011. Or the fact that he likes to have multiple-goal games against teams. Seriously, people, Franzen is a streaky player. He won’t score for six games, then he’ll have six goals in two games. A hat trick should not be this surprising. Plus, this means in his last four games in Ottawa, he has eleven goals.

Johan Franzen, in his one game back before relapsing with concussion symptoms again, had two assists and played a very defensive-minded game. He bowed out of the Olympics to stay home and heal for two weeks. It shouldn’t come as such a surprise to see him giving this team some offensive output.

Regardless, it was nice to see the love for Franzen flowing on my Twitter feed last night during the game. Then again, the incident with Chris Neil trying to goad him into a fight on numerous occasions, only to rip off Franzen’s helmet and shove his head into the glass may have had something to do with the defensiveness. His quotes about it from MLive:

“He usually shows up when the game’s over and tries to be the hero, puts his cape on and goes and flies out there,” Franzen said of Neil. “He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, I think. He usually steps up when the game is over and shows everyone that he really fights hard.”

Come on, you know Franzen is in the zone when someone’s trying to antagonize him and he’s literally laughing in their face. And he did that to Neil last night.

The big question is: Can we keep expecting this from the Mule?

The answer is: Possibly!

He looks to be back in health (though with concussion symptoms, you don’t know what can trigger a relapse). He looks to be very angry, which always makes for the best Mule. And he’s meshing well with the young guns he’s being put on a line with.

Maybe the lack of Henrik Zetterberg returning in the near future will stir something in Franzen. Maybe this is the kind of encouragement he needs to become a more consistent guy. Get back to grinding down the other team, crashing the net, scoring sloppy goals. Get back to what gave him the nickname of The Mule. Show that he can still produce and be a part of this team (since so many people are always counting him out).

Inspirational? A little bit. Reaching? Probably, knowing how streaky Franzen is. But you know what? I’ll take streaky right now. Help the Red Wings get on a winning roll with Franzen helping offensively and that may just be the push this team needs to make it into the playoffs.

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