DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg
was asked last spring whether he'd watch the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after his team was eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals and he politely answered, "No … I will not."
The sting for losing Game 7 to the San Jose Sharks
still was fresh, and he and his teammates were at Joe Louis Arena for locker cleanout day and to pose for the 2011 team photo, which made it hurt even worse.
Zetterberg also was staring at another long summer that provided ample time for training and stewing about coming up short in Detroit's annual Stanley Cup quest. In some ways, the time off was refreshing, but in other ways, it dragged.
Now that it's over and the Wings have a fresh start in front of them, Zetterberg says those who are overlooking Detroit as a serious Cup contender are mistaken. A new Cup quest starts for the Wings on Friday at home against the Ottawa Senators
, and Zetterberg -- whom NHL.com recently caught up with -- said he and his teammates are ready to go.
Q: After losing twice in a row to San Jose in the conference semifinals, is there a sense in your locker room that maybe people are overlooking the Red Wings this season?
Left WinG, 2010-11 Season Stats
Goals: 24 | Assists: 56 | Pts: 80
Shots: 306 | +/-: -1
Well, we don't really care what other people think. We care about what's happening in this locker room. Every year going into the season, we have the bar high and we want to go all the way. Of course, we have some mid-way goals during the season, as well.
The first 20 games is always important. You want to get off to a good start and get as good a spot as possible for the playoffs. After that, when the playoffs start, it's a whole new season. We've just got to worry about that when it comes around.
Q: Give us a reason or two to believe this team really does have another Cup run in it this season.
Well, I think we've got a good squad. We made some changes. A few guys left and we got some good additions. We're really hungry and we want to play good. We had a long summer again, so we're really anxious to get going and looking forward to the season.
Q: It looks like you'll start the year playing center with Valtteri Filppula -- who used to play center -- on the wing, while Jiri Hudler moves up to play with Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary. How are those small wrinkles in the line combinations working out?
Well, me and Pav really haven't played together in two years. We're kind of used to not playing with each other, even though when we're together we enjoy it. We'll probably see some time together on the power play, but we've got good players. We're very deep in forwards. Not just the top two lines will produce points. I think the third line looks good, too, with (Darren Helm
) and (Justin Abdelkader
) and (Todd) Bertuzzi. They've had a really good preseason and have probably been the best line for us.
Q: You're facing a familiar face Friday against Ottawa -- their new coach Paul MacLean. He used to coach here with Mike Babcock. What do you like about his coaching style?
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Well, he knows hockey very well. He sees the plays great and he's a good man. He's easy to talk to. He'll let you know when you've done something bad, but if you do something good, he'll also let you know.
Q: Getting back to having a good start to the season … you guys have an interesting early schedule, don't you?
Yeah, we have kind of a weird schedule from the beginning. I think we only have about four games in two weeks, or something like that. We play back-to-back and then we're off for four days and then we have two games and we're off for five days. It's going to be a little weird … we're basically going to have two training camps in between there.
Q: Do you guys also feel a little bit under the radar, even here in Detroit, with what's happening with the Tigers and Lions? Does that feel a little unusual?
It's unusual for people not in the locker room here. I don't think we pay that much attention to what other media or people say about us. We know what we have in here. We know we have a good team and we're going to be there again. We're real excited for the Lions and the Tigers. I'll admit it's been a little tough to focus for the preseason when we have the Lions playing good and the Tigers in the postseason, so it's going to be fun to go into the regular season -- where you really have to pay attention to our stuff.
Q: You guys now have seven Swedish players on the roster, with Gustav Nyquist knocking on the door down in AHL Grand Rapids trying to be the eighth. Are you guys trying to become the Swedish national team or something?
I don't know, I guess they like Swedish blood in here. I think we've just been lucky for us Swedes that we have a lot of guys that have been good in our organization. It's been nice. We enjoy that we have it, especially for our families.
Q: Tell us about Nyquist -- he didn't make the team, but he seemed to really impress a lot of people here. Were you impressed?
Absolutely. I'd never seen him play before the camp, and he came in and had a really good rookie camp. He just kept going with us and in exhibition games he showed that he really has talent. He's a really smart player and I think that's why we will probably see him up here soon.
Q: Johan Franzen said he reminds him of you a little bit. Do you see that comparison at all?
I think he's a lot quicker than I was. He really is. He's a really good, skilled player, so I won't be surprised if he's here sometime this year.