Thursday, September 9, 2010

Season preview - the second line

Haven't been in a writing mood lately and I forgot my notes at work Tuesday, but here I am, back again.

Valtteri Filppula
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 78 GP, 19 G, 17 A, 36 Pts, +16, 28 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 80 GP, 12 G, 28 A, 40 Pts, +9, 42 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 55 GP, 11 G, 24 A, 35 Pts, -4, 24 PIM

Last season
Last year was a difficult season for Flip. he started off very well on a line with JWils and Leino, but then they faded and in late October, Flip broke his wrist on a nasty late hit from behind against the Oilers. He lost time until after Christmas and was understandably a bit rusty at first when he came back. In the first couple of months after that he first centered a very depleted second line, then an equally weak third line. On both those lines, Flip was the sole playmaker and had to really lead the line offensively and he didn't seem to handle the position that well. He semmed to try to do too much and do everything on his own. Down the stretch he finally got to play wing on Z's line and suddently flourished through the rest of the season. With the pressure of him and another main creative force on the line, he seemed to be more relaxed and accomplished much more. Still, he didn't have a bad year. If we look at his points per game over the last three years he had .46 in 07/08, .50 in 08/09 and .64 last season, so it was his best offensive season per game.

The upcoming season
We've been waiting for Val to have a breakout season for a couple of years, but so far it has aluded him. It's time for him to have that season and live up to the hype, expectations and the money the Wings pay him. We have seen potential from Flipper for years, but he's never broken clean through yet. What better year to finally do it than this year? He's gonna be coupled with Mule and Bert, two guys who can create room and some plays on their own and also two proven goalscoreres who are perfect for a passer like Filppula. So I would be surprise if Flip hasn't seen this year as the year he's gonna take the next step.

What we need
We need Filppula to have a strong showing this year. The second line has potential to be scary. Mule and Bert are two guys who can produce quite a bit and they showed some chemistry together last year in the playoffs. Flip is a guy with loads of potential as a playmaking two-way center. Together this line could be the NHL's scariest second line and better than some teams' first lines. But for that to work we need Flip to be dominant, dish the puck to his wingers and not try to do everything himself. We need him to score a few goals, but most of all to put up a good load of assists. He might get some time on the PP and he will definitely be a key player on the PK and we're gonna need him to be strong in those situations too.

What we will get
I think Flip will find it this year. He's gonna have two high scoring linemates and especially the Mule should make it easy for him to get room, create plays and gather up a buttload of assists. I think that having three scoring lines and playing with two proven linemates also will take some pressure off Flip and that he will be more relaxed on the ice. These elements combined will make Val have a breakout year. Look for him to finally take the step and become a dominant player in both ends of the ice.

Prediction
79 GP, 22 G, 44 A, 66 Pts, .84 PPG


Todd Bertuzzi
Last three years
07/08 - Ducks - 68 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 Pts, +8, 97 PIM
08/09 - Flames - 66 GP 15 G, 29 A, 44 Pts, -13, 74 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 82 GP, 18 G, 26 A, 44 Pts, -7, 80 PIM

Last season
Todd Bertuzzi had a very strange year with the Wings last season. Early on he was absolutely useless. He took dumb penalties, threw the puck away on weird spin-o-ramas and was useless on all counts. Then, a little while into November, you could see that Bert had gotten into his groove more, bought into the system and started understanding thungs. he took less penalties and you could see him working hard on his defensive game. The positive flow then turned into offensive output as he won games on his own in December and scored a lot in January too. Sadly, his offensive output slowed a but after that and he ended with 18 goals, but he played fairly good for the rest of the season and did very well in the playoffs.

The upcoming season
This season bert has a new deal and I assume he hopes to keep last year's success going, but with a little more consistency. He's getting older, but he stayed healthy last season for the first time in years and should be rested and ready for a new season. He's gonna get a lot of chances to score goals and be the gritty one on this line and playing with the Mule is also nice for a guy who often likes to pass rather than shoot. He's got everything around him in place, he is adjusted to Detroit and the system and he should have a nice season in his sights this year.

What we need
We need Bert to be tough, to work hard, be strong in the corners and work his ass off defensively too. We need him to buy into the system, try and not take too many dumb penalties and to avoid moronic spin-passes. We need him to dare to shoot and to score between 15 and 20 goals.

What we will get
Hard to say with Bert. He might lose his cool and go back to his old ways. He might get hurt. But I think he will build on last season, stay relatively healthy and the line he is on is perfect for him. Look for Bert to have another good season, take another step towards redemption and win his first Stanley Cup.

Prediction
82 GP, 20 G, 28 A, 48 Pts, .59 PPG


Johan Franzén
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 72 GP, 27 G, 11 A, 38 Pts, +12, 51 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 71 GP, 34 G, 25 A, 59 Pts, +21, 44 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 27 GP, 10 G, 11 A, 21 Pts, +1, 22 PIM

Last season
The Mule got injured in the third game last year and was out until right before the Olympic break. When he came back he played pretty good, but not up to the old Mule standards. In the playoffs he had a point in every game except the last one and lead the league in scoring when the Wings got eliminated. He didn't score much outside of the four goal blowout aginst the Sharks though. He said his knee held him back a lot and that he felt slow and weak because of it.

The upcoming season
Now Johan is heakthy and ready for a bounceback season. His knee is fine and we should see the Franzén of old. He's gonna play on a line with a playmaker and excellent passer in Flip and with a big guy, who passes well and is good at creating havoc in Bert. This should be perfect for a sniper like the Mule. His big body and shot, combined with Bert's size should create a lot of room and this line looks very dangerous.

What we need
We need the Mule to be a big contributor this year. He needs to stay healthy and score between 30 and 40 goals for us. He needs to go into the tough areas, create room and play dominant offensively on the second line. We need him to be Flip's main support as a defensive forward and he's also gonna be counted on for power play production.

What we will get
If the Mule stays healthy he'll deliver. He's gonna get a lot of helo from his linemates and I think we'll see a sharp, ready and motivated Franzén, who's gonna score a ton of goals. He might not be the Avalanche 08-version of himself in every game, but we can expect him to be a dominant performer, delivering exactly what we need on the second line.

Prediction
76 GP, 43 G, 30 A, 73 Pts, .96 PPG

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