OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 8 days remaining before the Wings kick off their season in Sweden (which is still entirely too many, but at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel). In order to pass the time, I’ll be posting a player profile every day until then (in alphabetical order, because I’m one of those people). I want to make it very clear that these are not predictions, because I do not, under any circumstance, make predictions. They’re simply my thoughts on each player’s performances last season, and my hopes and expectations for them this time around. Today’s subject:
2008-2009 Regular Season: 60 GP, 2-11-13, +/-13, 66 PIM
2009 Playoffs: N/A
Season Highlight: I can't think of anything super special, so how about this fight?
Season Lowlight: Busting a vein in his head and subsequently missing the rest of the season.
Hmmmm…this is a tough one. Last season, Lilja struggled right along with the rest of the team defense. He didn’t really stand out as being particularly good or bad most of the time. His injury played a role during the playoff run, as the Wings really could’ve used his shot-blocking ability, especially on the penalty kill.
I have absolutely no idea what to expect from him this season. He says that his headaches are improving, but there’s a very real possibility that he’ll never play again. You just never know. At this point, I’m not even sure what’s best for the team from him. Putting him on long-term IR brought the Wings under the salary cap to start the season, and if he recovers some moves will have to be made. I think we can all agree that the defense is stronger with Lilja than Lebda or Meech or whoever else rotates in on the third pairing. It’s just a matter of finding the room under Gary’s little salary cap. On the other hand, the thought of a grouchy Lilja (I know I’d be in a pretty rank mood if I had headaches every day for several months, so I’m assuming that he is too.) isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What he needs to do to make me happy: Heal his head…unless the Wings need him to stay on LTIR.