- Henrik Zetterberg downturn, struggling to score among six players

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has gone 21 games without a goal and probably hasn’t gone 24 hours without someone saying something complimentary about him.

Zetterberg, 37, hasn’t scored since Oct. 18, and his slump followed an impressive start in which he generated four goals and eight points in the opening seven games. He’s on a 47-point pace after finishing last season with 68 points.

Zetterberg is considered one of the NHL’s premium leaders. The Red Wings’ 5-1 win against Winnipeg on Tuesday is an indication of that fact. Zetterberg said the Red Wings embarrassed themselves in back-to-back losses against Montreal, and everyone in the organization understood that Zetterberg was demanding a better effort from everyone. He was plus-4, with one assist, in the Winnipeg game.

“This is not the first time in his career he has gone through this stuff,” Blashill said. “Six or seven years ago, the whole first half of the year, people doubted how much great hockey he had left. Seven years later he’s had lots of great hockey.”

“He has still been a good player,” Blashill said. “Obviously, we need him to produce. He wants to produce. But he’s still very good defensively. He still gets lots of minutes because of that.”

Zetterberg isn’t alone in his goal-scoring struggles this season. While scoring is up 8.7% across the NHL, some notable players have inexplicably had trouble finding the net.

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals: The center went 21 games without a goal before scoring Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Backstrom scored 23 goals last season and has four this season.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets: The bullish defenseman with the powerful slap shot has scored 70 goals over the past four seasons, but he has no goals in 27 games this season. Byfuglien does have 69 shots on net, though. His 15 assists put him on a pace for 45, which would be a career-high.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Regarded as the league’s most dynamic offensive defenseman, Karlsson owns one goal this season and has gone 13 games without scoring. Ottawa is 3-8-2 in those games. Karlsson averaged 19 goals per season over the past four seasons. Is he trying too hard to make something happen? He is minus-7 over the past four games.

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: Burns scored Thursday night to give him two goals in 27 games. That’s a six-goal pace for a defenseman who netted 29 goals last season and 27 goals the season before. His scoring falloff can be attributed primarily to poor puck luck. He still ranks eighth in the NHL with 106 shots on goal. His 3.9 shots per game average is the same as last season.
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