By: Mike Stone
It’s time to close out the season with another installment of the Stoney Six Pack.
1. Although I still am not enamored with the six year contract, Jimmy Howard proved to me that goaltending is not an issue. I don’t think he is great, but with a good team around him, the Wings can go far with him in net. He did give up 20 third period goals in 14 games, but the Wings have much bigger fish to fry. He was arguably their MVP this season.
2. Ken Holland needs to bounce back from a few poor years. I will give him credit for the Damian Brunner and Danny DeKeyser signings, but he was not able or willing to pull the trigger on moves that would have made this team better. Whether it was his fault or not, he was not able to convince Ryan Suter or Zack Parise to be a Red Wing. The Kyle Quincey acquisition for a number one pick last season was absurd. Aside from a handful of games, Jordin Tootoo made minimal impact and don’t get me started on Mikael Samuelsson. Its time for Holland to be bold and somehow swing a trade to get a legitimate top four defenseman and a guy who can actually score 25-35 goals a season.
3. Mike Babcock coached his butt of this season. Given a flawed roster, he was able to coax this team to within one goal of the Western Conference finals. Many of his players allegedly can’t stand him, but you would never know it with the way they played the last month. He was not perfect. I still don’t understand why Gustav Nyquist and even Thomas Tatar did not get more ice time. The power play was a disaster during the playoffs and was only middle of the pack in the regular season. That is on him
4. Henrik Zetterberg’s captaincy would have made Yzerman and Lidstrom proud, especially during the playoffs. At times he took the team on his back with his defensive play and timely goals. His 3 goals the last two games of the Anaheim series basically lifted the Wings to the next round. He was mainly responsible for limiting Jonathon Toews to one goal. He only scored once himself, but it was the equalizer in game 7 and his two assists were instrumental in the Wings 4-1 game two win. He led by example which did not go unnoticed by his opponents as well. The Chicago players seemed to pay him more homage than usual in the handshake line.
5. Johan Franzen was terrible. He scored once in the Chicago series and was -7 in the playoffs. The stats only tell part of the story. The Mule looked unengaged. Where was that feisty guy we were used to seeing in the past? I know looks are deceiving, but Franzen looked older and slower
than the average 33 year old player. His 14 goal regular season is not enough to justify the nearly 4 million dollars he made this season. The worst thing is that he is due to make that every year until he is 40 years old at the end of the 2018-19 season. That goes back to Holland, who basically had to choose between Marian Hossa and Franzen after the 2009 season. If there is any way to move him or buy him out, it would behoove the Wings to make the Mule extinct in Detroit.
6. Valtteri Filppula is an unrestricted free agent. His regular season totals of 9 goals and 8 assists and his weak 2 goal -4 plus minus playoffs hopefully paved the road for his exit out of town. Unfortunately the highlights from his hair were more dominant than his highlights on the ice. He made 3.5 million dollars each of the last four years and someone will pay him more. Hopefully that person’s name is not Ilitch.