OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 3 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: 67 GP, 2-13-15, +/- -3, 26 PIM
2009 Playoffs: 23 GP, 3-6-9, +/- 5, 12 PIM
Season Highlight: His goal to start off the Finals, fluky though it was. Or possibly this hit. I can't decide.
Season Lowlight: His costly Game 7 turnovers. I'm still too traumatized to be able to link the videos.
He and Kronwall made a solid second pairing for most of last year. He doesn’t have the penchant for spectacular open ice hits like his partner does, but I like the fact that he very quietly delivers crushing checks into the boards. He’s a solid shut-down guy, and his play compliments Kronwall’s perfectly because he’s able to cover when Kronwall jumps up into the play. That being said, there is a little part of me that will never get over those turnovers in Game 7. I know, I know, I know that the blame doesn’t fall completely on him, but ugh, I couldn’t even bring myself to link to the video.
This year, he needs to step up and play tighter defense. The key to the season is going to be tightening up the defense, and he and Kronwall need to play a large role in that. It also wouldn’t hurt to chip in with a few more points, although that’s not really his game. His value lies in his ability to wear down opponents with solid defense and his ability to take them out of the play by rubbing them out against the boards. He hasn’t looked spectacularly good from what I’ve seen of him so far, as he’s been making a lot of defensive zone turnovers, but theoretically the pre-season is there to work those kinds of kinks out.
What he needs to do to make me happy: Atone for his Game 7 sins.