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The Filppula line is definitely the one I have the most doubts about. That is, if it's going to be Mule-Fil-Bert. If Hudler plays on the 2nd line and Mule fully commits to being the Holmstrom for that line then I think we could see something really good.

The thing to remember about Bert is that in the beginning of the season he hit the post like 4 times a game and choked on some WIDE open net chances.

So did Filppula, unfortunately. Maybe not in the beginning of the season like Bert but man oh man did we have some angry LGW members.

I agree. Bert will take over the role of the big netfront body, a body that was previously relegated to Franzen, while Mule will play the role of the sniper/goalscorer.

Correct me if I'm wrong but other than on the power play and during his hot streak in late of '08 when he spent time with both Datsyuk and Zetterberg, I don't remember Franzen playing that Holmstrom role. In 5 on 5 situations I've mostly seen him as more of a shooter closer to the perimeter than the guy at the net. I've just always seen him have more of a taste for being the sniper during ES situations. So, in terms of the areas of the ice he tends to occupy, I don't think we'll see much of a difference. But we will in terms of an increase in production mainly because he should be healthy by team reports.

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Up front, as previously stated, I love the Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi line, which needs a better nickname than the one I gave it. Filppula can dart in and out of traffic and make savvy plays or charge up the ice using his speed to back off defenders while Franzen and Bertuzzi take turns either barreling to the net or sliding into superb shooting positions, all while cycling the puck fantastically well and pumping the puck to the point when necessary. Their personalities seem to mesh pretty well, too. For whatever reason, the easygoing Franzen calms Bertuzzi down a little bit, and Bertuzzi’s competitiveness perks the occasionally sleepy-eyed Franzen up a bit. It’s only been all of two days, but I really like what I see from that line.

It goes without saying that the Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom line works like one of those $8,000 Swiss watches the players wear--Homer got an assist while falling onto his butt right in front of the net on Saturday that still sticks in my mind because it was characteristically deft by Homer to feather the puck back while falling--and the Hudler-Modano-Cleary line sometimes looks gorgeous and sometimes looks like it has some bugs to work out. Modano was right when he said that Cleary is “up and down” and Hudler “ad-libs,” and the problem for Hudler, in my opinion, is that he’s still trying to readjust to the North American ice surface, where there isn’t an extra 15 feet of width to lurk in.


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Although I see the OP's point (in a way) about the Bertuzzi - Filppula - Franzen line I think there's the potential for big things from this line because Franzen will garner so much attention from the opposing team. This will create time and space for both Bertuzzi and Filppula. I honestly think we start to see the playoff type point production from Franzen burst into the regular season. Filppula is now surrounded by two big bodies that can crash and bang and create room for him to operate. This line really has the potential to score in bunches. Not to mention they'll be facing the opposing team's secondary defense tandems while Datsyuk - Zetterberg - Holmstrom occupy their first pairing.

took the words right outta my mouth. flip was great in the playoffs last year and franzen is a goal scoring machine. flip feeding one-timers to franzen all year and bert hammering down in the corners and keeping the opposing dmen busy in front of the net is gonna be huge. this is actually the line i'm most excited to watch because i'm 100% sure on 1,3 and 4...line 2 has mystery surrounding it and i'm looking forward to seeing how these guys do together. hopefully bert plays like he did last year minus the no look passes and 1 hand on the stick at times. cream soda is tasty.

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<_< And I was so excited...


Babcock paid attention to a few other things, too, as Pleiness noted…


The Wings’ second line of Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Todd Bertuzzi had a hard time clicking in training camp.

“We’ll watch here now,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’ve got to work it out. What normally happens you get a little frustrated with each other until you decide to talk and once you decide to talk you’re probably on the home stretch. A little more frustration might set in yet.

“It’s pretty good I think,” Franzen said. “I think we’re at a good level, but we can do better. The more we play the better we get.”

Bertuzzi and Franzen spent a good chunk of their time on the ice talking to each other to try and work out where they were supposed to be in the offensive zone to support Filppula, who was darting up and down the ice, darting back and forth irrespective of his linemates’ positions. That’s a problem, because, as Pleiness noted in an earlier conversation with Ken Holland, the Wings want Filppula to step forward without turning into a defensive liability, and that’s what he is right now:

“The plan is he’s going to be the No. 2 center,” Holland said. “We’ve got to watch. He’s so good as a defensive forward that a lot of times, in the past, we’ve just sort of worked him into that position because he’s such a premier checking forward. But where is his offense going to go?” Holland added. “For a lot of last year we had (Henrik) Zetterberg in one center spot and (Pavel) Datsyuk in another center spot, realistically, in the National Hockey League, when you’re playing on the third line and not getting much power play time it’s pretty hard to generate (offense).”


“Part of his (lack of) offensive statistics is because we’re using him in such a defensive role,” Holland said. “In a cap world you need people to step forward. With the addition of (Jiri) Hudler and (Mike) Modano and we have Todd Bertuzzi back, we get (Tomas) Holmstrom back, now he has an opportunity to play with good offensive players. We think he can take his offensive game to a different level, whether he’s playing with Franzen, Bertuzzi, Hudler or Cleary. We think he will,” Holland said. “I think he’s going to have a good year.”

The irony of watching that line work for me is that Bertuzzi and Franzen have taken turns playing as snipers or power forwards who battled their way to the net as Filppula darted in and out of traffic looking to set both players up with passes, and as we all know about Fil, that’s a problem in more ways than one. First, Filppula has yet to embrace the concept that he needs to shoot the puck on a regular basis, and as a center with two big bulldozing wingers, he’s going to have to shoot the puck at the net and let chaos unfold…

“I still need to shoot the puck more and definitely try to go to the net more,” Filppula said. “Offensively, those are the biggest things I need to improve on. I think it’s a mental thing, I need to decide to (shoot more),” Filppula added. “I need to try and make it happen on the ice.”

And, put simply, Todd Bertuzzi’s most effective when he knows he should go to the front of the net and stay there unless he’s going into the corners to shovel pucks back to his center, defenseman, or the resident sniper on the line, Franzen, and thus far, Bertuzzi’s been able to indulge in his back-passing, backhand-shooting and spin-o-rama-prone tendencies, more and more as each practice and scrimmage progressed. I’m one of those weird people who really likes the way Todd Bertuzzi 2.0 plays as a two-way forward who actually backchecks and shows up to play every night, but for both Filppula to break through offensively and Bertuzzi to cause as few expletives tossed his way by Wings fans as possible as he tries too hard to will back a deftness of puck-handling skill that he simply could never really control, both players need to simplify their game, and they need to get on the same page with each other to succeed. All Johan Franzen needs to get going is a puck on his stick and somebody to tick him off.

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Major props to George Malik for generating so much line excitement with an extensive writeup! :thumbup:


Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom

Datsyuk used the blacked-out Reebok stick which he told me was specifically not from the KGB after the game for the first half, and then switched to a Reebok 11K for the second half, and Homer very honestly had a goal called back because the referees ruled that he tipped a Nicklas Lidstrom shot in from his shoulders, not the crossbar (which he did, but still, it’s a frickin’ scrimmage!), and he was given a penalty soon after, so I think he did something very bad to referees in a previous life…

Otherwise, I mean there’s not much to say about this line. Zetterberg makes demonstrative defensive plays while Pavel’s a little more subtle in his own end, but in the neutral and offensive zone, they’re nothing less than magic together, and their stick and lower body strength can’t be underlined enough when they’re battling for pucks. Neither is a large man, but they’re incredibly strong. Holmstrom’s knees are healthy and he’s skating around like a player three years younger, and he plain old looks happier this season. For a player who’s as moody as Homer, that’s important.

Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Todd Bertuzzi

If anything, Johan Franzen was sometimes thoroughly bored at camp with nobody to annoy him and no clearance to literally knock people over and skate to the net like a bully on a playground, whacking kids because he’s just bigger and stronger than they are. He obviously needs to stay healthy and obviously needs to bring a little more consistency to the table in terms of his motivation, but he’s going to be fine once the season begins. He’s skating like a man with two healthy knees whose heavy shot needs something to break or someone to push back into the net. The mule couldn’t kick with his horseshoes on, and he will during the exhibition season.

As for Filppula and Bertuzzi, they really do make strange linemates in terms of their need to rely on each other to simplify their games and succeed, but Fil needs to shoot more, tell his linemates where he expects them to be so that they stop talking to each other and start going to the net, literally in Bertuzzi’s case, and Bert needs to find someone to tick him off, too. Hopefully Sidney Crosby will do the trick. He makes me mad whenever I see that twerp, and I’m a nice guy.

Jiri Hudler-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary

The best thing Mike Modano did in the Red vs. White game was reaffirm that he is still a Selke-worthy defensive forward who knows how to take care of his own zone and can backcheck like the Red Wings need a third-line center to backcheck if he’s not clicking with two streaky, streaky players in Hudler and Cleary. Modano was awesome backchecking.

Hudler’s high, hard shot and nose for the net remain intact, but even he admitted that he’s still trying to readjust to the geometry of the North American game, despite his status as a seasoned NHL’er, and it shows. Cleary is, to some extent, pulling a Bertuzzi--he needs to go to the front of the damn net and generate turnovers along the boards and then get out of the way while Modano and Hudler do their thing and get in the way of the opposing goaltender. They’ve got a week and a half to figure each other out, and I think they will.

Hudler will also be better once he’s got a pair of gloves that aren’t Zetterberg’s, and Cleary needs to stop trying to use Hudler’s Bauer TotalOne stick, which he did during the scrimmage. Go back to the Easton S19, Dan.

Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves

Helm wins faceoffs like nobody’s business, charges up the ice knocking the fillings out of his opponents and is supremely defensively responsible, and Eaves not only checks hard but is skating like the wind this season and generates offense on the forecheck very, very regularly. These two are going to be fun to watch this year, most likely with Abdelkader stirring the pot.

Mattias Ritola-Justin Abdelkader-Drew Miller

Abdelkader dazzled, generating scoring chances, checking the snot out of people and playing really, really well in his own end, especially against the Modano line. He’s a little bulkier this season and it’s showing in his endurance. That boxing training had much more to do with building up endurance than it did with fighting, which he isn’t going to do very regularly. The Wings want him to play like Kirk Maltby did in terms of ticking people off and instigating stuff, and that’s what he’s going to do.

I thought that Miller was better than Ritola in this game but the whole point as far as the Wings are concerned was underlined in the box score--Ritola put up a point and Miller looked like a steady, hard-working checking forward. As much as the Wings like Miller’s hard-working style and consistent effort, the management believes that Ritola, for all his floating and perimeter play, has a scorer’s touch and could put up some decent numbers down the line, and when you have that kind of offensive potential, the Wings tend to lean toward potential over already receiving the best they know they’re gonna get from somebody. I think the battle for the final roster spot will come down to the two, and won’t be decided until the last exhibition game, but I have to reluctantly give it to Ritola at this point.

Nicklas Lidstrom-Niklas Kronwall

Nick isn’t just pinching more with Kronwall alongside him--they switch sides very regularly, with Kronwall playing the left and Lidstrom playing the right as necessary. Still working out kinks, yes, but Lidstrom is his fantastic and nearly perfect human self, and Kronwall didn’t really get into the swing of things in terms of beating the brains out of his opponents as he can’t do so when he’s playing against teammates, but there is, for lack of a better description, a better pacing between his staccato hitting style and the flow his skating brings to his puck-moving game at both ends of the ice. That being said, Kronwall had an ice pack on his left knee after every practice and scrimmage, so “healed from surgery” in 2010 still means, “Give him another month to be truly pain free, and THEN let’s see if he’s back to 50-point form.”

And if you’re keeping score at home, not only is Nick wearing the CCM Vector helmet now, he’s also ditched the classic, $20 RBE visor that Rafalski and Maltby wear for an Oakley. Different helmet, different visor. It happens very regularly, but not when you’re Nick Lidstrom. Mike Modano’s the only one rocking the old-school CCM skates and helmet now.

Brad Stuart-Brian Rafalski

Brad Stuart can’t go easy on anybody, even in scrimmages. I love watching him smear his opponents into the boards by twisting his hips when he’s hitting them, and he did that to his teammates at 80% of his usual tenacity and nastiness on Tuesday. He was his strong, steady self all camp long, and yes, he’s as quiet as he sounds like off the ice.

Rafalski’s just healthy--nobody mentions the fact that he played through back issues over the past two seasons--a little heavier and a lot more comfortable in his skin. Regardless of whether he’s playing with Stuart or Lidstrom, the Wings need Rafalski to consistently post about 50 points while playing that soccer-style defensive game, where instead of poke-checking his opponents and using his wingspan like Lidstrom does to ward off foes, he literally closes on them, checks them and jabs the puck out of the scrum with his stick or kicks it out. He makes “tackles” when he’s separating opponents from the puck in the soccer sense of the world, and he’s back at his “tackling” best.

Jonathan Ericsson-Ruslan Salei

The only bad thing I can say about Ericsson is a big, bad thing, just like him--he was still making supremely Sophomore Slump daffy mistakes at times. I think we sometimes forget that he’s still a 26-year-old in progress who’s a good two years out from his prime, and will have hiccups from time to time as he really was and is a late-bloomer. He’s hitting people with authority again, however, he’s skating well, he can pinch more with Salei next to him and he’s shooting the puck like he used to.

Salei is so no-frills it’s not funny. He might out-Brad Stuart Brad Stuart in that regard. He’s everything Andreas Lilja was on a good day, only a few inches shorter, and he remains a Stealth Bomber who seems to lurk and lurk and lurk and then suddenly be in the perfect spot to pick off a pass, block a shot or hammer an opponent. The fact that he’s so enthusiastic and plain old looks at everybody cross-eyed, like they’ve kicked his puppy or something, is good. I want to see him unleashed during the exhibition season, too.

Jakub Kindl

Kindl’s NHL ready most of the time. That means that the Wings need to break the big, rangy defenseman in slowly as he continues to figure out just where he’s supposed to be skating and where he’s going to rip that hard, low shot at the net or find forwards on the fly in the neutral zone to spring with his seeing-eye outlet passes. If he can get a good exhibition season in and come into the lineup in November, after some confidence-building practices, a la Jimmy Howard, he’s got all the potential in the world--in two to three years--to be a superb offensive defenseman who does everything but hit people (he’s just not physical, despite his 6’3” frame), but he needs to be handled with care and be careful to not lose confidence in himself if he make mistakes. He’s on the cusp, still.

Jimmy Howard

Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard have one thing in common: they all play exactly like their off-ice personalities. Howard is supremely easygoing and really does have that, “Aw, shucks” affect, and on the ice, when he’s just playing goal, he’s everything that Osgood isn’t in terms of smoothness and elegantly effective technique. While Osgood flails onto his butt to seal the left post as a player skates around him, Howard simply lowers and extends his left leg and toe and the pad kicks out into the right place. If he, like McCollum, keeps standing upright and keeps working with Bedard, there’s no reason to think that Howard will ever suffer from more than three to five “sophomore slump” games over the course of the entire regular season because Howard is near-technically perfect and really does look more confident and relaxed, if that’s possible, coming into this season. He’s our #1.

Chris Osgood

When Chris Osgood’s on his game, he’s not exactly an aesthetically pleasing goaltender, looking somewhere between a toad and a crab in terms of his stance and the way he scrambles to stop pucks when they’re loose in his crease. He plays goal like his helmet-and-cage mask looks--he’s effective but it ain’t pretty sometimes. And in terms of both his mannerisms, level of confidence and the way that Ozzie staggers, stumbles and regains his balance to will pucks away from the crease, he’s back to his old form. He’s not trying too hard to get on top of his crease, nor is he backing in too deeply, and the puck, as Mike Babcock would say, is sticking to him.

Edited by titanium2

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