Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009-2010 Player Profiles: Dan Cleary...

OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 22 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:

Dan Cleary


2008-2009 Regular Season: 74 GP, 14-26-40, +/- 0, 46 PIM
2009 Playoffs: 23 GP, 9-6-15, +/- 17, 12 PIM

Season Highlight: Scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 7 against Anaheim.
Season Lowlight: I'm not a guy, but I would imagine that this was not a pleasant moment in Cleary's life.

Last season was all about the playoffs for Dan Cleary. Everyone’s favorite Newfoundlander really turned things up, especially in the later rounds. He managed to score 9 goals in only 23 games, as compared to 14 goals in 74 regular season games. However, the really mind blowing stat is his team high +17. To put it in perspective, at that pace, he would’ve ended up +60 over the course of the regular season. Throughout the playoffs, he was a huge factor, and despite playing through a significant groin injury during the Finals, there were times when he seemed like one of the few Wings putting forth any effort toward the end. In fact, his all around play was so impressive that he earned himself an invitation to Canada’s Olympic camp.

This season, I fully expect him to top the 40 point mark he set during the regular season last year. He’s going to pick up some of the ice time vacated by the off-season departures, and this should help his numbers. He’s been able to be successful on every line Babcock’s put him on, and this will be beneficial since the Wings’ forward lines don’t appear to be very well-defined at this point. I’m also looking for him to improve his +/- this season, as I’m choosing to assume that his less-than-impressive 0 last season was a result of the general defensive malaise that the Wings suffered through last season.

It also wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him play himself onto Canada’s Olympic roster. There’s no doubt that that would stir a huge amount of controversy north of the border, but I really believe that you need guys like him on the roster in order to succeed. From his comments, he seems to be taking the right approach to the whole situation, in that he says he doesn’t feel any pressure to make the team. Some of the fringe players at the camp might spend the beginning of the season trying just a little too hard to play their way onto the team, but I don’t see Cleary doing that. If he ends up getting to play in Vancouver, I’ll be thrilled for him. If not, then he’ll get two weeks of rest, which is all the better for the Wings.

What he needs to do to make me happy: Provide energy on a nightly basis and chip in with a timely goal every now and then.

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