Per Ken Holland, Henrik Zetterberg will miss a minimum of two weeks with a small herniated disc. #RedWings— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 3, 2013
The loss of Zetterberg comes a week after star forward Pavel Datsyuk was shelved with a concussion. There is still no timetable for Datsyuk's return, although the Red Wings have gone 4-0 in his absence.
Zetterberg (11 goals, 19 assists) and Datsyuk (12 goals, 11 assists) have scored 29.5 percent of the Red Wings' goals this season, leaving a gaping hole on the team's first line for an undetermined amount of time. The Red Wings are also missing forward Todd Bertuzzi (five goals in 23 games) with a bruised shoulder, although he could return Wednesday, and defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
The injury bug hit the Red Wings hard last season, too. According to ManGamesLost.com, only two teams lost more man games to injury than the Red Wings during the lockout-shortened season. But the Red Wings were able to tread water until they got healthy and reached the Western Conference semifinals, where they lost in overtime of Game 7 against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
That experience, along with an extremely forgiving schedule over the next two weeks, should make the extended absence of Zetterberg—and potentially Datsyuk—easier to handle.
|Red Wings' upcoming schedule|
|Wed., Dec. 4||vs. Flyers||12-13-2||26|
|Fri., Dec. 6||at Devils||11-12-5||27|
|Sat., Dec. 7||vs. Panthers||7-15-5||19|
|Tue., Dec. 10||at Panthers||7-15-5||19|
|Thur., Dec. 12||at Lightning||16-9-1||33|
|Sat., Dec. 14||vs. Penguins||18-9-1||37|
|Sun., Dec. 15||vs. Lightning||16-9-1||33|
|Tue., Dec. 17||vs. Ducks||18-7-4||40|
|Thur., Dec. 19||vs. Flames||9-13-4||22|
Of their next nine games, the Red Wings face five teams teams that are below .500. Two of those four games with teams with winning records are against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will be without leading scorer Steven Stamkos and are 2-5-0 in their past seven games without him.
Even if Datsyuk still has concussion symptoms over the next two weeks, the Red Wings should find a way to hold the fort against such middling competition. There's never a great time to lose your two leading scorers, but with the Red Wings sitting fourth in the conference with 35 points and a soft schedule on the horizon, a crisis should be averted.
Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.