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Henrik Zetterberg's Olympics finished, could miss time with Wings

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Henrik Zetterberg played just one game but is headed back to Detroit. (USATSI)
Henrik Zetterberg played just one game but is headed back to Detroit. (USATSI)

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Henrik Zetterberg's Olympics are over almost before they could begin.

Sweden's captain wasn't at the team's practice on Thursday and afterward the Swedish team doctors said Zetterberg had a herniated disc and was considered day to day. Less than 24 hours later Zetterberg was pulling out of the Games.

"[He] is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free-Press.

"He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break. Beyond that, I have no real time frame."

Holland also said he's not sure if surgery will be necessary but either way, it doesn't sound very good for the Red Wings at this point either, this injury will likely bleed over to their team as well. But more immediately, the impact is on Sweden and it's big.

The Swedes already lost one top-six forward in Henrik Sedin before this tournament began as well as Zetterberg's teammate in Detroit Johan Franzen and now they go down another. For a team whose biggest question surrounded the scoring up front, it's a huge blow. Zetterberg had one of their four goals in their opening win.

Trying to replace Zetterberg is going to be tough. Capitals winger Marcus Johansson is likely going to slot in for Sweden in Zetterbergh's place and perhaps he will find a spot on Nicklas Backstrom's wing given they play together with Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Even with that chemistry, Johansson is no Zetterberg. He's the captain for a lot of reasons, least of which is the fact that he's a point-per-game player in the NHL and is strong defensively.

Coming into the Olympics, Sweden looked to be as strong of a contender as any team but with injuries starting to take their toll, that view is changing. They still have probably the best defensive corps in these games and a very strong goalie in Henrik Lundqvist but you don't lose players like Zetterberg and Sedin and not suffer as a result.

As big of a loss as this is for Sweden, it would be equally tough for Detroit, a true double whammy. Maybe by getting two weeks to rest it can help him recover for the NHL's stretch run where the Wings are in the thick of the playoff bubble race.

 
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