Friday, September 3, 2010

Season preview - the first line

Henrik Zetterberg
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 75 GP, 43 G, 49 A, 92 Pts, +30, 34 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 77 GP, 41 G, 42 A, 73 Pts, +13, 36 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 74 GP, 23 G, 47 A, 70 Pts, +12, 26 PIM

Last season
Last season was a bit troublesome for Z. First he played for a team where more and more players fell to injury. Then, in early December, he got taken down by Matthias Öhlund and lost 8 games to injury. Then, when he came back, he seemed weak at first, he clearly wasn't fully healed and lacked the upper body strenght that makes him such an effective player. But he slowly got back into the groove and was very effective over the last part of the season. And despite injuries and the fact that he had weaker linemates than usual and new ones every weak, he still managed to put up points at about the same pace as the year before and he tied Pasha for the team lead in points. So while it was a weird season for Zetterbeg, he didn't show as many signs of getting old and weak as media likes to think.

The upcoming season
This year Zetterberg will be faced with an easier task. He's gonna have a much stronger offensive squad around him and he will, at least at first, be placed on a line with Pasha and Homer. After a couple of seasons with a little lowered production I'd assume he wants to prove what he is good for offensively and that he's gonna gonna get all the help he needs to achieve that. And as he said in an interview the longer rest will make him more ready and focused both mentally and physically.

What we need
This year we won't need Z to carry the team as much as we needed last year, but we do expect him to be one of the main offensive forces and also contribute defensivelt. Due to the fact that a few of last year's penalty killers will likely be in the press box each night he might see a little PK time and he will be among the main men on the PP. Ideally we'd like to see Zetterberg play as many of the games as possible and put up a point per game for 80-90 points. And we expect him to make Rosby cry like a little bitch again.

What we will get
I think Z will have a good year this season. He'll likely go down with some minor injury at some point, but I think he will have a mostly healthy season and that he'll be effective. The Circus line will kick into gear this season and together with Pasha I see Z dominating both ends of the ice and proving himself as one of the main forces in the league. I expect him to be among the most dominant players on the ice in most of the games and to have a season that will rank among the best of his career.

Prediction
75 GP, 41 G, 50 A, 91 Pts, 1.29 PPG


Pavel Datsyuk
Last three seasons
07/08 - Red Wings - 82 GP, 31 G, 66 A, 97 Pts, +41, 20 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 81 GP, 32 G, 65 A, 97 Pts, +34, 22 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 80 GP, 27 G, 43 A, 70 Pts, +17, 18 PIM

Last season
Last season wasn't easy for Pasha. While he stayed healthy for most of the season, none of the players around him did. For a long time he played on the team's only scoring line, with Bert and Homer. On that line he was the sole creative force and in that situation a lot of weight was on his shoulders. Defensively he handled himself excellently the entire season, capturing another Selke and leading the league in takeaways. At times it looked like he could steal the puck at will. Offensively he seemed to not handle the pressure as well. He was good the entire season and lead the team in points, but for a long time he seemed to lack that extra dimension, the "Fuck you, I'm Pavel Datsyuk"-gear. After the Olympic break that came into full force though and down the stretch he seemed to score goals at will and he showed himself as a really dominant force.

The upcoming season
This season, Pavel will benefit from not having to carry the team on his shoulders, with Z and Homer on his line, everything will be in place for him to have a season like the one he had two years ago. Pavel seemed to explode offensively late last season, he seemed to shoot more and find his goal scoring touch. He will no doubt try to continue that this season and try and have a career year in goals scored. And on a strong offensive team that can break down a team's defense and that can roll two strong PP lines, he leads a strong offense and could be aiming for his first brush with 100 points.

What we need
We need Pavel to be his dominant self. We need him to dangle, deke, play his perfect passes and score. We need him to be an ace defensively. We don't need him to carry the team every game, but we need him to be among the best players out there most of them and lead the team in the offensive cathegories. We'll need him to play some PK occationally and we'll need him to stay healthy for most of the season.

What we will get
Like Z, I think Pasha is in line for a career year. He might not have Hossa to dish the puck to, but he's got a strong lineup around him, he has learnt to score more effectively and I think he is ready to take revenge for last season, the Olympics and everything. I think he'll reach the 100 point mark for the first time, be in contention for the Hart and Lindsay and no doubt take home another Selke.

Prediction
78 GP, 34 G, 70 A, 104 Pts, 1.33 PPG


Tomas Holmström
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 59 GP, 20 G, 20 A, 40 Pts, +9, 58 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 53 GP, 14 G, 23 A, 37 Pts, +18, 38 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 68 GP, 25 G, 20 A, 45 Pts, +5, 60 PIM

Last season
Homer had a bounce back year last year. He scored 25 goals, worked his ass off in front of the net and in the corners, took loads of punishment from goalies, defensemen and refs and had one of his most effective post-lockout seasons. The tail end of the season was hampered by a broken foot (thanks Lebda) and then a knee injury and he probably struggled a little with that for the rest of the season.

The upcoming season
The fact he chose to sign a two year deal instead of a one year deal tells me that Homer feels healthy and motivated. Last season must have made him believe in himself being effective for two more years and I look forward to seeing a motivated Homer on the ice this year. As always he will be coupled with Datsyuk, and with Zetterberg too on the line, Homer will have every chance to have a great year.

What we need
We need Homer to stay healthy, battle in the corners and keep putting his butt in every goalie's face. We need him to continue to battle defensemen, take punishment and come back for more. We need him to be slapped, pushed and slashed by goalies, crosschecked and tripped by defensemen and get penalized unfairly and have goals wrongly called back by referees. And when he's done doing that we need him to come back for more, again and again. To frustrate goalies and defensemen, screen them and score ugly goals. We need him to win battles in the corner. If he can stay healthy for most of the year and pass the 20 goal mark again, then we've gotten what we need from him.

What we will get
You know what you'll get with Homer, he does his job, he does it well and he does it effectively. If he can stay healthy he will deliver what we expect from him. But his health is the question. He's growing older and his body takes extreme amounts of punishment every game. Chances are that he'll get injured at some point during the season, but we can always hope it's an inury that doesn't put him out for too long or strain him too much when he gets back.

Prediction
66 GP, 23 G, 21 A, 44 Pts, .67 PPG


Seriously, if this line stays healthy and clicks, can you think of a better line?

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