Over the past three playoff runs, Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has been fearsome.

He has been a point-a-game player or better during each of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 runs. Last spring, he finished as the Wings' leading scorer with 18 points. In one particularly memorable second-round game against San Jose, he pummeled the Sharks with four goals and two assists.

Franzen was Detroit's leading playoff goal scorer in '09 with 12, tied for first in '08 (when the Wings won the Stanley Cup) with 13, and trailed one goal behind Henrik Zetterberg's team-high seven last year. In overall points, Franzen ranked second in '09 with 23 and third in '08 with 18.

As much as hockey is a team sport, a team succeeds when its best players live up to their stature. Franzen hasn't done that leading into this year's playoffs, and the Wings' chances of advancing out of their best-of-seven series against Phoenix would be better if that changes starting with Wednesday's opener.

A productive and physically punishing Franzen takes on even greater magnitude as Zetterberg is sidelined at least through Game 1 because of a knee injury. Zetterberg is incredibly skilled, but he also defines willpower. Without him, the Wings need more from others, especially a potential game-changer like Franzen.

Like most goal scorers, Franzen tends to produce in streaks. He finished the season with a team-best 28 goals, two ahead of Danny Cleary, but that number was compiled the first four months of the season and heavily swayed by the five goals Franzen netted Feb. 2 at Ottawa.