CHICAGO – Superstars are called upon to step up when the team needs them the most.
And that’s been the case with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
In five career Game 7s, Zetterberg has two goals and six assists, while Datsyuk has four goals and one assist.
That’s why Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t worry about his two superstars heading into Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at the United Center.
“That’s because I’ve been hanging around them for a long time,” Babcock said. “Pav had six shots on net (in Game 6). He was home-free (Monday) night and didn’t score, he didn’t get up over the pad. Like he’s due. So the way I look at guys like that when they haven’t scored in a bit they’re due, they’re bound to come through.”
Zetterberg has yet to score through six games in the series, but does have three assists.
Datsyuk has just one goal and one assist in the series with Chicago.
“Everyone talked about (Jonathan Toews) for a long time,” Babcock continued. “It’s the same thing. When you’re due and you’re a good player and you work hard and you’re determined eventually you’re going to break out. So to me those guys are like money in the bank as far as I’m concerned.”
Zetterberg did come through in the clutch for Detroit in Games 6 and 7 against Anaheim. He had two goals and an assist in Game 6 and followed that up a goal and an assist in Game 7.
Datsyuk had a goal and two assists in Game 6 against the Ducks.
“That’s why they are who they are,” Niklas Kronwall said of Zetterberg and Datsyuk. “I wish I could tell you why. They bring it every night and in games like these is when they shine the most.
“They seem to find that comfort zone and just go out there and produce and make things happen out of nowhere,” Kronwall added. “They’re two of the best players in the league and we’re really happy that they’re on our club and not the other teams.”
Toews had been held without a goal this postseason before he finally lit the lamp in a must-win Game 5 for Chicago.
He then had two assists in the Blackhawks’ second must-win game of the series, Game 6.
“I just think anybody who is a scorer, who is getting shots on net is bound to score,” Babcock said. “If you’re not getting any shots on net, you’re not getting any looks, you’re not going to get any opportunity that way. We had looks (Monday) night, there’s no question about it. In the end, if you fail to execute around the net that’s just part of it. You have to find a way to put it in the net. Close doesn’t get you anywhere at this time of year.”
Valtteri Filppula also has come up clutch in Game 7s, registering a goal and five assists in five games.
Jimmy Howard is 2-1 in three Game 7s, with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Howard said. “They’re a really good team. They showed it in the last two games. Just made a couple mistakes and it wound up in the back of our net.
“Some days they go in, some days they don’t,” Howard continued. “It’s just one of those things where you put it all behind you. It’s just one game. Nothing matters what happened previously in the serious. You just go out there and play.”
As a franchise, the Wings are 14-9 all-time in Game 7s.