Top Five Dynamic Duos, Featuring Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg

Ryan LengCorrespondent IMay 13, 2008

Here it is, my all-time, top five dynamic duos:

5. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice

4. Mick Jagger and Kif Richards

3. Batman and Robin

2. John Lennon and Paul McCartney

1. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg

After last night's Red Wings-Stars game, my "top five dynamic duos" list solidified with an out-of-this-world performance by Detroit’s stars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

In game three of the Detroit-Colorado series, Zetterberg created THE major aesthetic achievement of this year’s playoffs with a rebounded, backhanded, spin-o-rama’d, top-shelf’d goal on Jose Theodore. After which, I had to lift my jaw up off the floor.

Last night’s game was no less astounding. Zetterberg and Datsyuk, who combined for six points, showed their upper-echelon status in style. But if you ask any Detroit fan, (s)he will tell you that (s)he hates it when Wings’ coach Mike Babcock splits them up.

And rightly so. But, before I get carried away, allow me to mention a few biographical details of this duo.

When Detroit scouted Datsyuk and Zetterberg, they were just skinny teenagers with funny sounding names and a tube of Oxy-10 in their hockey bags. And in 1999, 170 players were drafted ahead of Pavel Datsyuk, and in 2000, 210 players were drafted ahead of Henrik Zetterberg.

When Datsyuk joined Detroit’s line-up, he made an impression on fans immediately with his shifty stick handling and brilliant passing. When the playoffs arrived, however, Datsyuk struggled to score and to fight off the larger defensemen.

The next season, Henrik Zetterberg joined the line-up. Though he didn’t handle the puck as brilliantly as Datsyuk, he excelled where Datsyuk was weak with a goal scorer’s killer instinct. Thus, they were put on a line together with Brett Hull and were quite effective.

Since then, they have, for the most part, remained on a line together, roomed together, and fielded press conferences—albeit awkwardly—together. They have shared successes and failures for the bulk of their careers as if they were brothers.

For other teams in the 2008 playoffs, it has become painfully evident how well they work together. They don’t simply beat other teams. They beat them with methodical and even artistic ease.

Furthermore, their weaknesses have all but been erased, as it was obvious last night—Datsyuk knows how to bury a puck every bit as much as Zetterberg does, and likewise, Zetterberg can stick handle and make brilliant passes as well as Datsyuk can. 

Both players have grown into themselves, and despite criticism to the contrary, they play a hard physical game and can dish out shockingly heavy hits. They have both been nominated for the Selke Trophy, indicating that their defensive game is flawless as well.

However, what delights fans the most is how well they read each other—it’s like they don’t even have to look. They just know where the other one is and execute inconceivable passes that lead to inconceivable goals.

Which got me thinking about dynamic duos and why we like them so much. There is chemistry, yes, and there is mimesis. But what we really like to see is their relationship.

(Sexually repressed males may take a coffee break.)

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg join a long-standing tradition of dynamic duos with the likes of Gretzky and Kurri, Lemeuix and Jagr, and Yzerman and Shanahan.

The reason why they are dynamic is that they make each other better. Their game improves the more they are together. Penguin fans can relate, because this year, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are doing the same thing in Pittsburgh.

It’s that joy, that brotherhood, and yes, that love between the two players that makes them so brilliant. In an age where we are still looking for one emotionally stunted hero, there is always a plurality in every successful unity.

Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.

- Ecclesiastes 4:11-12