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Zetterberg reflects on '09 Winter Classic

by Dave Lozo /
Henrik Zetterberg knows what it's like to be at the mercy of the weather for a Winter Classic.
The forecast in the days leading up to the Detroit Red Wings' matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field isn't quite what the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are facing this season, but Zetterberg was still concerned about what Mother Nature would have in store on New Year's Day.

"A little bit," Zetterberg said. "I think we are always worried like it's going to snow, or even rain; it would be a little tough to play that game.

"But for us, I would say that we had the perfect conditions. You know, it was a great atmosphere. It was a little cold for the fans maybe, but for us we kept ourselves warm and we had some heaters going on the bench. So we were fine."
According to, it will be 48 degrees with a 50-percent chance of rain for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Zetterberg said that playing in some light rain wasn't a problem when he was a kid in Njurunda, Sweden.

"You had a few, but most of our games were indoors," Zetterberg said. "My first two years we had a few games where we had to play outdoors. A few times it was real cold and it snowed too, but that's the way it was."

Zetterberg has been pretty good at the indoor version of hockey this season. He had 3 goals and 4 assists last week to earn the NHL's second star honors and is tied for sixth in the NHL in points with 41. The Red Wings are tied with the Penguins for the League lead in points with 50, but the Red Wings have hit that mark in one fewer game.

The Red Wings have also climbed to the top of the League standings despite battling some major injuries.

Pavel Datsyuk went down with a broken hand Dec. 23 and will be out at least a month. Forward Danny Cleary, who leads the Wings with 16 goals, fractured an ankle Sunday and said he expects to be out a month. Defenseman Brian Rafalski is day-to-day with a balky back after missing 10 games with a knee injury earlier in the year.

Fourth-line center Mike Modano has been out since late November with a right wrist laceration that required surgery.

But Zetterberg said injuries are just part of the territory during an NHL season.

"I think it all started with Mike Modano, when he went down," said Zetterberg. "That was a big adjustment for us. He was a big part of that line and a big part of the power play. So, you know, we kind of find a way to play without him.

"And then Pavel goes down with his hand injury, and you know, it was tough. It's tough to fill that hole. Everyone got discouraged a bit. And then you lose Cleary, too. So it's definitely tough injuries, but we have been there before. We just have to find a way to win hockey games."

The Red Wings have won three of their last four, including a historic win Monday night. Goaltender Chris Osgood made 46 saves in Detroit's 4-3 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche, giving Osgood his 400th career win.

Does that achievement lock up a spot in the Hall of Fame for Osgood? Zetterberg certainly thinks so.

"Four-hundred wins, (three) Stanley Cups, he's definitely a Hall of Famer in my eyes," Zetterberg said. "If you look at it, what he has accomplished, he's definitely one of the top goal stoppers. I think everyone in our locker room and our organization knows what he's done and he knows how much he means to us."
"It was a great experience. It was fun to have the family over and that practice day, when the players brought their kids on the ice and skated with us, it was a great time."
-- Henrik Zetterberg on 2009 Winter Classic
At 30, Zetterberg still has a ways to go before he hits any major milestones like 1,000 points or 1,000 games. After watching "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road To The NHL Winter Classic," perhaps there's a desire to take part in another outdoor game before his career is over.

"I have seen bits and pieces and they seem to do a good job on it. You know, I thought it was fun to be in the Winter Classic once," said Zetterberg, who had three assists in the Wings' 6-4 win against the Blackhawks at Wrigley. "It was a great experience. It was fun to have the family over and that practice day, when the players brought their kids on the ice and skated with us, it was a great time.

"I think it is a good thing, and especially when you have good rivalries playing, it's better."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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