While Zetterberg may not garner league-wide Hart Trophy consideration for league MVP, the fact is that the Red Wings are night-and-day better when Zetterberg is on the ice.
The captain recently missed almost a month with a herniated disc in his back and the Red Wings struggled, to say the least.
Detroit's offense is admittedly missing a number of other key cogs, but Zetterberg's team-leading 31 points in only 29 games played is a remarkable feat in itself. As Detroit Free Press writer Helene St. James pointed out, he missed 28 days and was still topping the team in points when he returned.
But offense isn't the only area that Zetterberg helps the Red Wings be better in.
Statistically speaking, the captain's presence improves his team across the board.
|Goals Per Game||Goals Against||Power Play||Record|
The Red Wings obviously missed Zetterberg on their power play, which had carried them through a woeful month of November.
With the power play slumping without Zetterberg, achieving less than half of the success that it had enjoyed prior to his injury, his return to the lineup on December 28 couldn't have come soon enough for Detroit.
The Red Wings picked up a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers and Zetterberg registered a goal in the effort.
A captain is supposed to lead his team in other ways than just on-ice performance, but with Zetterberg's play of late, the Red Wings will certainly continue to expect him to not just be a character player but also a dominant one.
The Red Wings have been an injured bunch this season, with as many as eight regulars out of the lineup at one time.
As long as their captain is playing, however, the wins should start coming on a more regular basis.
All statistics via NHL.com.