-- In addition to the status of Pavel Datsyuk
, inquiring minds want to know if 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy-winner Henrik Zetterberg
is wearing down after four hard-fought games in the Stanley Cup Final.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who made a concerted effort to have one of his best two-way forwards assigned to Sidney Crosby
for the first three games of this best-of-7 series, didn't match up in Thursday's Game 4 at Mellon Arena.
Zetterberg logged a little more than 20 minutes of playing time -- his lowest total of the series -- on 27 shifts. He registered one shot on goal -- yet another low -- and had a team-high two giveaways in a 4-2 Pittsburgh win that has the Penguins brimming with confidence after evening the series. The fifth game of the series is scheduled for Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
Zetterberg is no stranger to heavy workloads and tough battles, but perhaps this matchup is taking a bit of a toll on the 28-year-old Swede. Still, let's not forget that Zetterberg did spend 23-plus minutes on the ice in Games 6 and 7 against the Anaheim Ducks
in the Western Conference semifinals, producing three assists and eight shots.
"I don't think we have played that much more than they have in the playoffs and I feel good today," Zetterberg told the media on Friday afternoon following an optional skate in which he did not participate.
"It's nice to have an off day and do some treatment and we'll be ready to go (Saturday). This is our job and we've prepared for and worked for this all summer to be able to go deep in the playoffs."
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik
said Zetterberg looked a bit weary in the later stages of Game 4. But how did Zetterberg feel?
"I don't know if I was any more tired than other games -- you should be tired at the end of games, otherwise that means you haven't worked hard," Zetterberg said. "The key thing is to find a way to battle back and regroup and get ready for next game."
Wings forward Jiri Hudler
knows first-hand how battle-tested Zetterberg is.
"Hank is in great shape and I don't believe he's tired at all," Hudler said. "That was just one of those games where we made some mistakes and they cost us. A lot of things are being said this time of year because it's playoff hockey. Guys talk about stuff all the time and you just can't let those things get into your head."
That's the approach Zetterberg will take into Game 5.
"Some players try to get things going through the media and some of the media really likes that," Zetterberg said. "But you just have to take it with ease and not think about it that much."
Zetterberg entered the series against the Pens with 9 goals and 18 points in 16 postseason games. He's notched a respectable four points in this series, including an assist in the Game 4 loss.
While Babcock did admit Zetterberg and Johan Franzen
didn't have much jump in their game on Thursday, he felt it was Jordan Staal
's shorthanded goal in the second period that ultimately put his team on their heels the remainder of the contest.
"I didn't mind our team until we gave up the shorthanded goal," Babcock said.
Zetterberg knows the fans at Joe Louis Arena will be raring to go for Game 5 and he expects the Wings to respond after the Penguins took it to them in Pittsburgh.
"They did the job in their building but now we have two at home and must get the job done," he said. "We're hoping for the best."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.