Jeff Riger: Tell Me What It Takes?
As I sat at the Joe Friday night watching the Wings get blanked by the Blue Jackets 3-nothing, I started to do what I normally do, get mesmerized by Henrik Zetterberg. “Z”, no matter if the Wings win or lose consistently shows why he is one of the best forwards in the NHL. There was a moment in the game in the 2nd period where Columbus star Rick Nash delivered a hard check to Zetterberg leaving him sprawled out on the ice. Instead of getting revenge by going back after Nash, “40” instead stole the puck from him and turned it into a scoring chance on the other end. This is just one example that Zetterberg displays game after game and as I watched I started to wonder if people really know how good this guy is.
We have been through the stats and we know what Zetterberg brings to the table. I don’t think I have to tell you that “Z” plays in every situation, he plays defense and well as he plays offense and he is always pitted against the opposition’s best player and line. Added to Zetterberg is another great forward that is currently injured in Pavel Datsyuk, and like Z, Datsyuk is essentially the same player; GREAT! So as I sit and ponder how good these two forwards are that can play together or apart I start to wonder if “Pav and Z” could ever be legitimately compared to forwards like Steve Yzerman and Sergei Federov? At first thought you probably start laughing and think to yourself “what is Riger smoking?” But then when you break it down maybe it doesn’t seem so crazy?
So in the immortal words of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith “Tell Me What It Takes?” Tell me what it would take for you the Wings fan to think about Zetterberg and Datsyuk the same way you think about Yzerman and Federov? Now the reason for this blog is not to try to take anything away from the great play of 19 and 91 but instead, it is to get 40 and 13 some more respect. I understand that Yzerman and Federov gave you 3 cups and they did it in a time where the Wings had not won in what seemed forever. But if you are only judging on cups alone then you would know that Datsyuk has 2 and Zetterberg has one and both guys are in their prime and will have ample chances to improve on those numbers. Plus Yzerman and Federov did not have a cup when they were Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s age.
As far as who they are as players, if you take Yzerman and Federov away from some of those Wings teams, especially in 2002, Detroit might (and this is a big might) have still been able to win the cup. If you take Datsyuk and Zetteberg away from this Wings team it all of a sudden becomes much tougher to put a W up in that win column each and every night. Now if you flat out compare stats Yzerman and Federov prevail and the conversation is not even close. Zetteberg is 31 while Datsyuk is 32, combined the Euro Twins have 432 goals and 1162 points while Yzerman and Federov when they were around that same age had a combined 908 goals and 2211 points. Of course you also have to take into account that Datsyuk and Zetterberg did not get the same chance to play as early as Yzerman and Federov did in their careers. But I think this conversation is more than just about stats, it’s about the potential to be compared to a couple of legends. Not now but when Datsyuk and Zetterberg have finished playing and if the future is anything like the present is then I think we will have the privilege of enjoying some truly amazing hockey and who knows, maybe some more parades down Woodward as well?
So you tell me? “Tell Me What It Takes” to have Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the end to be in the same conversation as Yzerman and Federov?