Cleary had been playing far better than Anderson and Miller. He's definitely showing himself to not be the bottom or second to bottom plug on this team. He was far better than Nestrasil. Nestrasil was easily the worst player on the team.
Kindl reading the play well or is he just on fire?
Seems to be a bit of both. Honestly, I figured everybody expected Kindl to produce offensively. That's why he's been on the team. It's just, as of lately, he's actually accomplishing something. He's no longer a Brad Stuart who sucks at defense.
Franzen looks good this year. I am a historical Franzen hater but I am very impressed this year. He's skating, using his body, and seems to actually be engaged in the hockey game. Like, he's winning battles. I haven't seen him do that since 2008ish. I never got on Franzen because he couldn't score, but because he was lazy (and sucked) and seemed like he wasn't even interested in playing hockey. So far, this year, this has not been the case. Quite the opposite. I hope it sticks. I wouldn't even say he has to produce great numbers to be effective if he keeps playing like this.
1. D.D - I agree he's very consistent in his own zone. He's responsible, a big body, heavy on the puck, moves the puck well, and has high hockey IQ. He's so dependable in many ways which is why I list him as the Wings best D-man.
2. B. Smith - He's constantly improving his play in his own zone. Paired with his offensive gifts he's growing into a critically important piece of this team. I feel Smith has potential to get even better. I would like to see him put up more points and convert more opportunities into goals.
3 KFQ - He looked dumb last night, but so far a solid year for the whipping boy. I'm quite surprised. If he continues to be responsible in his own zone his durability and dependability becomes a huge asset. He's playing with heart lately which is a bit unusual for him.
4. Kronwall - Ever since Nick left he hasn't been as responsible with the puck in his own zone. He's so gifted athletically and is dangerous offensively such that he probably deserves to wear the "A" anyway. But how good of a year has it been for him compared to years past? Not stellar. I didn't think he was great last year, either.
5. Ericsson - His tree-root legs have been noticeable. If he's hesitant to use his body and afraid to take guys out of the play then his value really diminishes. I wonder if he is afraid to let loose because it's not "Red Wings"-style hockey. Is he being warned by the staff about instigating fights, igniting emotions and taking penalties? Why else is he not using his body like he used to? I put him #5 because I still see him cancel guys out in his own zone.
6. Kindl - He just doesn't seem to add much value. I guess, at times, he's looked good skating and moving the puck. He is a turnover machine and he seems to lack confidence to play in the NHL. I'm surprised he still gets opportunities. I think he's improving... slowly