Pavel Datsyuk vs. Henrik Zetterberg

steve laidlaw

2011-06-22

zetts

 

The Detroit Red Wings are geniuses. We know this because they managed to steal guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg (sixth and seventh round respectively) in back-to-back drafts. Their true genius lies in what we don't even recognize. What we don't recognize is them as individuals and that is because they completely avoid internal controversy. Does anyone ever ask who the best player on that team is? Does anyone even care? I know I haven't heard such questions asked. Detroit has created this universe separate from the rest of the NHL where winning is the only thing that matters. They are boring and they like it that way. There is a reason they have not changed their logo in what feels like forever. It is a conscious decision to maintain their environment. I mean, when the lone controversy regarding your team involves octopi you are probably on the right track, because who gives a crap about octopi?

 

My issue is that no one ever asks which one of Datsyuk and Zetterberg is better. I kinda need to know this stuff for my freaking fantasy teams. We do know they were both draft steals and that they have helped Detroit win multiple Cups but that is pretty much the end of the story. When Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe in '08 no one questioned if this made him better than Datsyuk, no one even questioned if this meant he was the best player on the team. We just said that he and the rest of the team had a fine playoff run and then went about our business of simultaneously loathing and lauding the Red Wings franchise. We never hate a single player though; it is always the organization as a whole.

 

Compare that to the following season when Malkin won the Conn Smythe and suddenly we questioned if Malkin was better than Crosby. I swear this happens on every team but Detroit. We've definitely pondered if there is a better Sedin twin and there have even been arguments that Semin is better than Ovechkin (though not lately). Detroit is living in a red and white bubble. Until now Datsyuk and Zetterberg have been untouchable but I need answers. So I apologize Detroit, I am about to burst your bubble (you're welcome, rest of the League). This week's Cage Match is Datsyuk vs. Zetterberg… Bring on the controversy.

 

First off, I may have misspoken when I said Datsyuk and Zetterberg have been devoid of controversy. In the world of fantasy hockey there has been a longstanding problem regarding their positional eligibility. The going convention was that when Datsyuk and Zetterberg played together Datsyuk was the centerman and Zetterberg was the winger. This was in fact false. Zetterberg was the one that played predominantly center in those situations. The truth of the matter, however, is that Detroit head coach Mike Babcock changes his lines too much for any solid conclusions. Yahoo! finally resolved the issue this season by giving both Datsyuk and Zetterberg the coveted C/LW distinction. This made them both invaluable and also put both on even ground for fantasy comparison for perhaps the first time ever and for the purposes of this article I will assume that they will continue to share positional eligibility in future seasons.

 

The first logical step in any Cage Match is to compare opportunity but in this situation there is very little discrepancy. Datsyuk and Zetterberg spent as much time playing o