As injuries mounted and change took shape with the Red Wings roster this season, many outside of the team predicted that Hockeytown was on a collision course with the apocalypse.

In their minds, there wasn’t a snowballs chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that the Red Wings were going to make the playoffs in a year with so much transition. The retirements of legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and net-front guru Tomas Holmstrom, and the loss of Brad Stuart were big obstacles. But overcoming the unavoidable doom of early-season injuries was perceived as insurmountable.

How could this team complete? They went the entire season without Darren Helm, whom coach Mike Babcock has often referred to as the best third-line center in the league. The defensive six was supposed to be the team’s Achilles’ heel, only made worse by lengthy injuries to Kyle Quincey, rookie Brendan Smith and newcomer Carlo Colaiacovo.

Reaching the playoffs for a 22nd straight season was going to be a stretch … at best.

Yet through it all, one man has stood before the microphones and notepads to calm the waters, whether it was after a cataclysmic loss to Calgary or a must-win game at Dallas to secure a playoff berth on the season’s final game.

In his first season as the Red Wings’ 36th captain in franchise history, Henrik Zetterberg has been that man, as well as their outstanding role model for such young stars as Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner, Danny DeKeyser, Gustav Nyquist, and Smith.

It was Zetterberg who almost single-handedly willed the Red Wings into the playoffs, leading them to four straight victories to close out the season last month. And Friday, in an elimination game, it was Zetterberg again. His leadership skills rose above all else as he scored two goals, including the winner in overtime that forced Game 7.