In the middle of March 2012, the wheels were coming off for the Red Wings.

After several weeks with the most points in the NHL, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom were injured. Other players were nicked up and struggling to get back into the lineup.

What was unknown to fans and media is that Lidstrom's publicized "deep bone bruise" was, despite the continual denials, a fracture.

In the bowels of the Staples Center, after a rough 5-2 loss to the Kings during a five-game losing streak, few players were around, let alone talking. Suddenly, striding around a corner, came Henrik Zetterberg.

Chicly dressed in a style leaning toward European, he smiled.

Zetterberg presented a secure, unruffled countenance.

He sought primarily to reassure.

Problems could be solved by hard work and getting back to the Wings' accustomed style of play.

As for the injuries, he gave it his best "that's hockey" shrug.

"That's the way it goes, sometimes," said Zetterberg, then an alternate captain. "The first half or the first three-quarters of the season, we had been really healthy. Normally, we get injuries in the course of the year and hopefully everyone will be back for the playoffs."

Then, the future captain of the Red Wings was off into the Los Angeles night.

It is Zetterberg's leadership style: quietly confident, never an opera.

Focusing on the task at hand, he strives to get the best from the team and himself by setting the paramount example.

By his words, he often seeks to create space away from the public maelstrom of doubts and exaggerations, where the team can concentrate on the vigorous, full execution of its plan.

"Oh, Z's a great leader," Howard said, recently. "He's a great guy in the dressing room. We all love him, he's an awesome person.

"This time of year, he always seems to be even better."

Zetterberg is traversing one of the toughest seasons a captain of the Red Wings has faced, arguably in decades.

Amid no small amount of rebuilding, after Lidstrom's retirement, a lockout prevented the normal training camp and exhibition schedule.

Then, they were decimated, once again, by injuries.

But they won the last four games of the season to make the playoffs before upsetting the third-best team in the NHL in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That a young, patchwork roster is playing this well for so long, and continuing to improve, speaks volumes for its leadership.