Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Season preview - the third line

Jiri Hudler
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 81 GP, 13 G, 29 A, 42 Pts, +11, 26 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 82 GP, 23 G, 24 A, 57 Pts, +7, 16 PIM
09/10 - In Russia with (hooker-) love

Last season
Last season Huds played for Dynamo Moscow. I heard he did pretty well, but who knows how good the KHL is. He apparently also got out of shape, picked up a drinking problem and banged some hookers and avoided getting paid for his service to the club. Sounds like an eventful, nice, little year off.

The upcoming season
Huds left Detroit in a way that fucked us over as bad as he could possibly do. He betrayed us. He did it for the money. This means that he has a lot to prove. He has a room full of teammates and an entire fanbase to win back. Hopefully he is motivated to do so and raring to go. He's gettin a good playmaking center, who also can score some in Mike Modano and a grinder with a scoring touch in Cleary. Together they should be an offensively gifted third line, that should give Huds a chance to pick up a few goals and assists.

What we need
Happy is supposed to be the main offensive force on his line. He's gonna be the one who scores the goals and he's expected to dish a few for his linemates to score too. He's expected to be a creative force on the wing and score 60-70 points for the team. He's gonna get a lot of PP time and is expected to put up quite a few power play points. And in line with the Detroit tradition, hudler needs to take a step up defensivelt this season and learn how to play defense and do it well.

What we will get
I think Hudler will do pretty well. He's got a nice line around him, he should be hungry and should have every opportunity to have the breakout season he was in line for when he bolted to the KHL. He might not live totally up to the lofty goals Babbles have set for him, but I think he'll come pretty close. At least he'd better... If not, look for Huds to be in a different team's jersey some time soon.

Prediction
82 GP, 32 G, 30 A, 62 Pts, .76 PPG


Dan Cleary
Last three years
07/08 - Red Wings - 63 GP, 20 G, 22 A, 42 Pts, +21, 33 PIM
08/09 - Red Wings - 74 GP, 14 G, 26 A, 40 Pts, Even, 46 PIM
09/10 - Red Wings - 64 GP, 15 G, 19 A, 34 Pts, -3, 29 PIM

Last season
Last season was a nightmare for Cleary. He lost time with an injury and struggled producing all year. He seemed uncomfortable when playing on a top line and did his best work as a grinder on the third line. He did have some great games too, like the Flyers game, but for much of the season, he pretty much sucked. He went from a Team Canada candidate to far out of the discussion. As it turns out, the reason for this was a knee injury that made it painful for him to even walk.

The upcoming season
Buckets should be healthy and ready for the season and he should be rested and hungry to show what he is good for. He's on a third line, but a scoring third line, where he is expected to provide the grit and meanness and score a few goals. If the line clicks like it should, this will be a dangerous and complex line and the position should fit Cleary perfectly.

What we need
Cleary is expected to have a bounceback season. He is needed to bang bodies, play gritty forecheck and backcheck hard, win board battles and sacrifice his body for the team. He is also expected to create things offensively and score a few goals. They don't have to be pretty, but we need him to score them. He will also be asked to deliver on the penalty kill.

What we will get
I think Danny will have a strong year and be the gritty force on the third line. He'll find back his ability to score the big goals in ugly ways and be a perfect compliment to the slicker Hudler and Modano on the third line.

Prediction
74 GP, 20 G, 18 A, 38 Pts, .51 PPG


Mike Modano
Last three years
07/08 - Stars - 82 GP, 21 G, 36 A, 57 Pts, -11, 48 PIM
08/09 - Stars - 80 GP, 15 G, 21 A, 36 Pts, -13, 46 PIM
09/10 - Stars - 59 GP, 14 G, 16 A, 30 Pts, -6, 22 PIM

Last season
Last season Modano lost a lot of time to injury and supposedly took a step back. Of course his 30 points in 59 games are much better than his 36 in 80 from the year before, but it is clear that he is not what he once was. However he did play on a really shitty Stars team.

The upcoming season
A fucking American legend is arriving in Hockeytown. Mike Modano, leader among American players in goals, points and basicly every offensive cathegory worth leading, born and raised in Livonia, Michigan, is finishing his extraordinary career by coming home to Hockeytown after 20+ years in the Stars organization. Can you get a more perfect marketing tool than that? Your armhairs are gonna stand like stiff dicks when he gets announced at the home opener. He is ours, he's an American hero and he is finally home. People are gonna get crazy for him, they're gonna celebrate him, but still, we've only got the setup for the perfect movie. The set up is there though. Take everything I've said so far, add a hot celebrity wife, the fact the organization that he served faithfully for 20 years threw him out because he was too old, despite promises that he could finish his career there and that the Wings are seen as too old by everyone, and you can see how this has potential for an ending that makes even the shrewdest Hollywood writer salivate. Modano has to reach that ending though. He could flame out, be poor, be mediocre. He could prove Dallas right. But you can feel pretty damn sure Mike Modano is gonna do his best to prove them wrong. The fact he chose to go on with his ccareer, after the magical last two games last season, after being thrown away by Dallas, shows that he is motivated and raring to go on a team with some of the greatest players on earth. He's gonna get a technical scoring player in Hudler and a grinder with a nose for scoring in Cleary on his line, perfect for a playmaker like Modano.

What we need
We need Modano to be the playmaker on the third line. He has to deliver the puck to Hudler and Cleary, create plays and be the creative force on the line. We need him to put up a good number of assists and a few goals too. Seein as this is the Red Wings, he will be expected to work defensively too and be the main two-way force on the line. As a right handed shot, he will likely be quarterbacking one of the power plays too, likely the second unit, together with Niklas Kronwall.

What we will get
When people look back on Modano in 20 years, there is no doubt that he will be looked at as a Dallas Star first and foremost. The first face of hockey in Texas. The question is if people will remember his stint with the Wings. There's a good chance it will be like Salming's stint with the Wings at the end of his career, mediocre and instantly forgetable. Something people will bring up as difficult trivia or that people will see in his stats and go "oh, that's right! I had totally forgotten about that". There is however also the chance that this will be remembered. A feel good story. The great year Modano had with the Wings when they all thought he was done. It is hard to say, but I think the latter is likely. He's motivated, has the right guys around him and still has a good dose of talent, a well of experience and a great hockey mind. Modano will not only be a great leadership influence and a breath of fresh air for this team, but also a contributor. Look for him to be healthier, play more and deliver more goals and points than the last couple of years. My gut feeling tells me that Modano will exceed expectations during the regular season and then be good and provide a clutch goal or two in the playoffs, completing his career with a storybook ending, skating on the ice with his second Stanley Cup, Detroit's number 12.

Prediction
72 GP, 14 G, 30 A, 44 Pts, .61 PPG

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