|Old stars still kicking as Red Wings host Canucks|
DETROIT -- The glory days are long gone for the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks, but the link to that bygone era for both teams is that their best players then remain their best players now.
When the Wings won their most recent Stanley Cup in 2007-08, it was Henrik Zetterberg leading the way, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
When the Canucks reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, it was was Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, leading the way, finishing 1-2 on the team in playoff scoring, combining for 12 goals and 30 assists.
The two Henriks captain their respective clubs and nearly a decade later as the Canucks arrive at Little Caesars Arena to face the Red Wings on Sunday, this trio remain the straws that stir the drink for their respective clubs.
"They are so fun to play with," Vancouver forward Jake Virtanen, the Sedins' current linemate, told NHL.com. "They make things really easy out there. (They're) really good in the (defensive) zone, (play a) good 200-foot game, they lay pucks for me in the zone where I can go get them.
"They're super smart, obviously, that's one of their biggest things, their hockey IQ and how smart they are out there."
You'll find an echo chamber in evidence in the Detroit dressing room when members of the Wings discuss what Zetterberg brings to the table.
"Just the completeness of his game is something that totally rubs off," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said of his captain. "I talked last year about making sure we didn't lose the culture at the end of the year (when the Wings missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season). He's a huge part of that culture. It's the culture of doing it right. It's the culture of playing from the right side of the puck. It's the culture of doing things that it takes to win.
"There's lots of players in this league that score points but don't know how to win. We've got one of the best winners I think certainly of this generation, that guys get to learn from every day."
Both teams are seeking to rebound from missing out on postseason play last year. The Canucks (3-3-1) are on a 2-1-0 run on their current five-game road trip, coming to Detroit off Friday's impressive 4-2 victory over the Sabres at Buffalo. Forward Derek Dorsett, who played only 14 games when his season was scuttled by December neck surgery, scored twice Friday and already has four goals this season.
"He's going pretty well right now, knock on wood," Canucks coach Travis Green told NHL.com. "To sit here with four goals after seven games says a lot about his game right now and about his character."
After Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, Detroit (5-3-1) is 0-2-1 in the last three games.
"I think especially the first two games (last week) against Tampa and Toronto, I thought we did a lot of good things, played two pretty good games," Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "The outcome could have been different but in saying that, we can't feel sorry for ourselves. Everything evens out over the course of the year and obviously we didn't do enough good things to win, simple as that.
"Again, you're in the winning business. You need points every night. We haven't been able to do that lately."
The Wings, in need of salary cap space after agreeing to terms Friday on a one-year contract with holdout forward Andreas Athanasiou, made a pair of trades Saturday. Center Riley Sheahan ($2.075 million) was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Scott Wilson ($575,000), a move that cleared enough room to fit in Athanasiou's $1.387 million deal.
In a minor league deal, the Wings also traded defenseman Ryan Sproul of AHL Grand Rapids to the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Matt Puempel, who was playing for AHL Binghamton. Puempel was assigned to Grand Rapids.