Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg sounded off on the play of his younger teammates after Thursday's 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 15-year NHL veteran is slated to miss the playoffs for just the second time in his career this season and has seemingly reached his breaking point with his teammates' lack of commitment in the defensive zone.
“There’s too much poke-and-hope on a lot of players,” Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press. “If you want to be a solid, good player in this league, and if you want to win something, you have to learn to play the right way.
“Poke-and-hope might get you 25-30 goals, but you will never win anything.”
Zetterberg didn't call any of the Red Wings out by name, though the Free Press suggests Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou may have been the targets.
The 37-year-old sits second on the team with 44 points this season and is one of just four players with a positive plus/minus rating.
“You have to play defence first,” Zetterberg said. “We have guys in here who have enough skill to create chances and get enough chances. You can’t force and gamble all the time. You have to do it right and eventually you will get chances. It’s not often you get chances when you cheat. Sometimes you will get rewarded but not in the long run.”
Zetterberg was asked how long it takes a young player to learn that lesson and replied, "some longer than others."
The Red Wings dropped to 26-30-11 with Thursday's loss and head coach Jeff Blashill agreed with Zetterberg's assessment.
“Poke-and-hope hockey is called 50-50 hockey,” Blashill said. “It’s a way to lose tons of games. To me it’s a young mistake and we had enough young guys do it for sure. You basically poke and you hope that you get it and if you don’t get it they’re going to get a chance. Well, that’s not the way you win. You want to create chances without giving up chances. When you play poke-and-hope hockey you’re done.
“I think we’ve competed extremely hard lots this year and haven’t had the results to show for it all the time. I’ve applauded these guys for their competitiveness and their ability to get back up when they get kicked. Tonight was no good. It was unacceptable.”