Since I'm still a bit amped from the game (who isn't?), I decided to whip this up.
In alphabetical order:
Justin Abdelkader (2G, 1A): B+. Abdelkader has shown, beyond a doubt, his value to this team. His unfortunate brainfart in game three aside, he played an excellent series. He hit everything that moved, did the necessary dirty work in the corners, screened the goaltender, scored some timely goals—especially the shorthanded goal in the series-deciding game—and, as well, proved his ability to play a prime defensive game against top-line opposition in the playoffs. He’s come a long way from the disposable plug he appeared to be in times past.
Joakim Andersson (2A): B. I think we’ve got our future third line center lined up. Andersson played a terrific series alongside his fellow rookies. He needs to work on his skating, and he probably won’t ever score much, but he’s got a big body, can handle the puck well, cycles well down low, and is very committed to the defensive side of the game.
Todd Bertuzzi (0G, 0A): C. This is a generic grade, given because we didn’t see the real Bertuzzi in this series. Bert showed up despite his injuries and did what his body was able to. He made no notable mistakes and did well in giving the Red Wings some pressure from the 4th line, but ultimately he was unable to make much of an impact. That is understandable, given the circumstances.
Damien Brunner (2G, 3A): B-. The OT goal was huge, and he was one-third of the surprisingly effective rookie line. He played fast and never took a shift off. Unfortunately, he was invisible for large stretches. He’s quick and he’s got a good shot, but he needs to work on both his strength on the puck and his shot selection. Still, he had a pretty good series.
Danny Cleary (2G, 3A): C+. Cleary has had a difficult season, and has very obviously been playing injured the entire time. In true form, he stepped up his game in the playoffs, putting his all into every shift. He did some good work mucking around in the corners and screening the goalie. Unfortunately, it seems that his hard-nosed style of play has taken a definitive toll upon his body, as he was unable to contribute much else.
Carlo Colaiacovo (0G, 0A): C. As with Bertuzzi, this is a generic grade. Cola didn’t play much, so it’s difficult to grade him. In the two games he played, he made no notable mistakes and executed no notable plays.
Pavel Datsyuk (2G, 5A): A. This is a no-brainer. Datsyuk brought into the series his usual, excellent two-way play. We were treated to his omnipresent mastery over the puck, and he was huge in the defensive zone and on the PK. He got better and better as the series went along. He provided leadership as well as stellar performance. Can you believe that this guy’s playoff acumen was in question not so long ago?
Danny DeKeyser (0G, 0A): C. Again, a generic grade. It’s a darned shame that he got knocked out of the series so early. His presence on the 3rd pairing was missed. The future is bright for this kid.
Patrick Eaves (1A): B. Eaves came in and played his usual energy game. He was quick on his feet, hard on the opponent, and excellent on the PK. He played his part, and was missed in the one game he was scratched from.
Cory Emmerton (0G, 0A): C-. Cory provided some decent work on the PK in his six games, but he is small, soft, prone to costly mistakes, and completely ineffective in the offensive zone. It was telling that he was absolutely not missed in game seven; the team played better with only three centers than it did with him centering the 4th line.
Jonathan Ericsson (1A): A-. Ericsson performed with admirable steadiness and acumen as the team’s prime shutdown defenseman. He wasn’t exceptional, but he played very well in the defensive zone, moved the puck accurately, and, with the exception of a few turnovers on breakout passes in game two (none of which resulted in anything), he made virtually no mistakes. He and Kronwall formed a very able first pairing.
Valtteri Filppula (1G, 3A): C+. Filppula’s game-winning goal in game seven and his overtime assist in game two were both huge. Unfortunately, he was virtually invisible otherwise, his costly error in game six aside. Too, both of the aforementioned plays came when he was detached from his usual even-strength line. He was almost completely ineffective in centering the 2nd line, and he provided very little to the team for most of the series. His play was, in sum, not good enough.
Johan Franzen (3G, 0A): B+. We didn’t get to see playoff-monster Franzen, but he nevertheless performed quite well. He worked hard; his three PPG were very important; and he played very well in the defensive zone and on the PK. It is very likely that his lack of even-strength production came much from having Cleary and Filppula as linemates for the vast majority of the series; both played very poorly.
Jonas Gustavsson (N/A): N/A. He didn’t play even a second, which is just dandy. It's always a good thing for a team when its backup doesn't hit the ice at all during the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard (.911 sv%, 2.74 GAA): B+. Howard got off to a bit of a tough start in the first three games, but turned his play around to become one of the team’s best players in the next four. It could be argued that he didn’t let in a single bad goal in games four through seven. If he can continue playing that well, the Wings will have nothing to worry about in net.
Jakub Kindl (2A): B. Kindl wasn’t spectacular by any means, but he was good enough in the role requested of him. He made some mistakes, but nothing hugely costly, and he was generally steady. His play suffered when paired with Lashoff, and improved again when the latter was replaced with Cola. It seems unlikely that Kindl will ever be a solid two-way defenseman, but there’s no question that he’s an NHL-caliber defenseman.
Niklas Kronwall (1A): B+. Kronwall and Ericsson generally did very well against top opposition, and Kronwall lent leadership to the team alongside his solid defensive play. He gets a couple of grades deducted for his lack of production, but all told, he did fairly well in his first series as the team’s #1 defenseman.
Brian Lashoff (0G, 0A): D+. Like Cola and Bertuzzi, Lashoff did not play much in the series. Unlike those two, his performance was almost wholly poor. He made numerous mistakes, some of them costly, and contributed almost nothing of substance.
Gustav Nyquist (1G, 1A): A-. Despite his modest production, Nyquist had an excellent series. He was everywhere, and proved that he can play effectively against any opposition regardless of his size. The future is very bright for this one.
Kyle Quincey (2A): B-. Quincey generally takes more flak than he deserves, but it is true that he is prone to very unfortunate brainfarts. He did well enough most of the time, but he has obvious shortcomings, and he needs a defensive partner able to account for them. Unfortunately, that partner is not Smith. He had an adequate series, but nothing more.
Mikael Samuelsson (1G, 1A): C-. Samuelsson didn’t get to play a ton, but, in contrast to some of the others on this list, that was solely because of the coach’s choice rather than any other factors whatsoever. When on the ice, Samuelsson was generally invisible. The one goal he scored came off of a gift rebound. He played by far the least of any player on either team in game seven (a whopping 4:20), and his presence was not missed. He’s not a bad player, but he takes up a roster spot that could more effectively be filled by any forward not named Emmerton.
Brendan Smith (1G, 1A): C. Smith played a bad series. Unlike his fellow rookies—Lashoff excepted—he played a very inexperienced, very fragile game. It’s clear that this kid has a ton of potential, but he needs to learn to settle down. We saw his abilities when he was with the team last season. When he learns to relax and play with confidence, he’ll be dangerous. Unfortunately, that did not occur in this series; he was regularly off balance in the defensive zone, and, with the exception of a stretch in game four, was not particularly effective in the offensive zone either; he probably had more of his shots blocked than any other player on the team.
Jordin Tootoo (0G, 0A): N/A. He played all of 6:24 in the entire series.
Henrik Zetterberg (3G, 5A): A. Though he did not begin producing until late in the series, Hank played very well and provided the veteran leadership that this team needed. He played an excellent two-way game and ended being the series’ leading scorer. He was indisputably the team’s MVP in the final two games of the series, and he yet again showed himself worthy of the captaincy.
All in all, this team has already exceeded expectations. To knock off the 2nd seed during a transition year, and with the multitude of injuries and roster losses that the team has suffered, is very impressive. And unlike the rest of the series wins we've seen in the recent past, this one came from pure determination and with a lot of youth on the roster. Things are looking good for the future, regardless of what happens in the next series.
Since I took the time to write this up, perhaps you all will share your thoughts! LGW.
Edited by Crymson, 13 May 2013 - 01:15 AM.