Whatever the label, they're performing at a high level for the Red Wings.
Hudler scored twice, Filppula added a goal and two assists, Zetterberg had three assists and Detroit hung on to beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 on Tuesday night.
"I don't know what's the second line," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "They dominated the game offensively and defensively. They were by far the best line today."
The trio combined for eight points in the first period, getting their team off to a flying start.
"The puck kind of followed us for a few shifts," Zetterberg said. "Everything we tried worked. It was good for the confidence. (Filppula and Hudler) are having career years. The only one not having a career year is me, but two out of three isn't bad."
The Wings liked how they opened a four-game trip.
"We've done well at home, but haven't been able to play as well on the road," Filppula said. "It's a good question. We try to prepare the same as at home but it hasn't been working out. It's not easy to win anywhere. Home teams come hard, so maybe that affects us as well."
Jordie Benn made his NHL debut, collecting his first assist in the opening period, while Dillon was a healthy scratch.
Filppula fired a loose puck into an open net for his 13th goal of the season at 8:02 of the first period.
Zetterberg's shot went in off Hudler's skate to make it 2-0 at 17:06 of the first. The goal was upheld after a brief video review to determine whether Hudler kicked the puck into the net.
Eriksson got Dallas on the board from the right circle at 17:56 of the first, assisted by both Benns, but Hudler struck from the slot at 19:00 for his second of the night to give Detroit a two-goal pad.
Jamie Benn notched his 10th of the season on a sharp-angle shot from the right of the net at 1:04 of the second period to pull Dallas to 3-2, but Emmerton got the puck past Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen's right pad from a difficult angle at 3:51 of the second for a 4-2 lead.
Once again, the Stars crept within a goal when Ryder's shot from long range slipped through Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard's pads at 7:25 of the second.
Franzen restored the two-goal advantage with a shot into the top right corner from the left circle at 11:46 of the second, his team-leading 16th of the season.
But Ryder beat Howard from the right circle at 14:07 of the third for his team-high 17th of the season to narrow the gap to 5-4.
Dallas pulled Lehtonen late to add a sixth attacker, but the Stars couldn't mount a final rally to send the game into overtime.
"You never want to get down, especially against those guys," Jamie Benn said. "They're a good team, they play a solid game and we almost came back there but it just wasn't enough. I think we kept battling back. It shows our character, and I think we just ran out of time."
NOTES: Linesman Steve Miller left in the first period with concussion-like symptoms. Miller hit his head when he accidentally collided with Stars D Mark Fistric. Miller left the ice and was treated by Stars medical personnel, who ruled him out for the rest of the game, leaving the crew with two referees and one linesman. ... Only one penalty was called, a holding-the-stick infraction on Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi 15 seconds after the opening faceoff. ... Forwards Darren Helm (strained groin), Tomas Holmstrom (groin) and Patrick Eaves (jaw) were out for Detroit . ... Forward Tomas Vincour (knee) was out for Dallas. ... The Benns are the third set of brothers to play in the same game for the Stars since their move to Dallas in 1993. The others: Derian and Kevin Hatcher, and Neal and Paul Broten.