DETROIT — When you have had success in the past, expectations are naturally higher for you than for others.
But Johan Franzen’s reputation as a playoff performer has taken a serious hit the last few years.
In the last 31 playoff games since the start of 2011, Franzen has seven goals, four assists and is a minus-9. He has one game-winning goal during that span.
In 51 playoff games from 2008-2010, he had 31 goals, 28 assists and was plus-29, with nine game-winning goals.
"You just have to stick with it," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Go out and keep shooting and working hard. That’s probably the message we tell everyone that’s not scoring. When he gets one there’s a good chance he’ll get one or two more. I think he had some good looks (Thursday). It will come."
The problem for the Wings is they’re down to their last strike, so to speak, and can’t wait for Franzen to get on a hot streak.
"He’s got to get himself going, just like all of us," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "All of us are responsible for ourselves. Obviously we’ve talked to him, tried to put him in the best situations to be successful but like every guy on your team collectively as a group and individually, we haven’t had our best, haven’t been good enough, so you got to find a way to get more. That’s your obligation to your teammates and to yourself.
"He’s no different than anyone else. You ask yourself ‘Am I playing at the level I’m capable of playing?’ and if you’re not, then we need more."
Franzen appeared to be providing more when he returned from his concussion after the Olympic break.
But since then, not so much.
In his last 22 games, playoffs and regular season, Franzen has one goal, seven assists and a minus-6 rating.
In his previous 23 games, Franzen had 13 goals, 16 assists and a plus-14 rating.
"We need more out of the Mule. It’s simple," Babcock said.
The problem could be in the way that Franzen views himself. He doesn’t seem to think of himself as a goal-scorer.
We need more out of the Mule. It’s simple.
Before the playoffs, Franzen was asked about his scoring drought to end the regular season.
"Even if I’m not scoring that’s not what I’m doing for this team," Franzen said. "It’s not why I go out and play games to score goals. I’ve got a lot of things to do before that. It’s not even fifth on the list, probably, when you go out to a game. So, playing real good down the stretch, I think, and not getting goals or many points."
Babcock believes Franzen brings some of the criticism on himself by not just meeting it head-on. Franzen has not spoken with the media since the playoffs started.
"I think Mule is a real good person, real good man, real good family man," Babcock said. "Tries to be a real good teammate, sometimes probably doesn’t handle you people as well as he should to help himself. To me, if you stepped right up and talked, it makes it easier. When you don’t, things build and I think that puts more pressure on yourself. I don’t know why you’d do that.
"It’s no different than companies. You see this every day in business. You have a meeting and no one says anything. You walk out the door and talk behind each other’s back. If you just call each other out and have the hard meeting, then everyone at the meeting can get on with progress. Have the hard interview and get on with it and make it easier on yourself. He’s a man, he’s got to deal with that himself."