Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009-2010 Player Profiles: Justin Abdelkader...

OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 24 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:

Justin Abdelkader

2008-2009 Regular Season: 2 GP, 0-0-0, +/- 0, 0 PIM
2009 Playoffs: 10 GP, 2-1-3, +/- 2, 0 PIM

Season Highlight: His first career NHL goal during Game 1 of the Finals
Season Lowlight: Having his girly squeal after scoring said goal featured on the Sounds of the Game.

He didn’t spend a whole lot of time with the Wings during the regular season last year, but he filled in admirably during the playoffs. He managed to score his first two NHL goals during the Stanley Cup Finals, and both of them were huge. (On a side note, he scored at 2:46 of the third period in Game 1 and 2:47 of the third in Game 2. If he had scored at 2:48 in Game 3, I would have had to deem him a witch doctor or something.) Aside from scoring those two big goals, he provided some solid minutes. He held his own defensively, and very rarely did he make me nervous when he was on the ice (quite a compliment for a rookie).

It’s hard to know what to expect from Abdelkader this season. Everything, obviously, is going to depend on how much time he ends up spending in Grand Rapids. With the signings Eaves, Williams, and Bertuzzi, it’s doubtful that we’ll be seeing much of him unless there are major injuries. As much as I like him, I think that’s a good thing. It’s been said time and time again, but playing 20 minutes a night as a first liner for the Griffins is much more beneficial than riding the bench as a Wings fourth liner. If he gets called up for any substantial length of time, I would expect him to chip in a couple of goals and post a few points, but he’s not going to be a huge contributor to the Wings this season. His playoff performance this past season showed the amount of potential that he has, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him as a regular in the Wings’ lineup down the road. Just not this season.

What he needs to do to make me happy: Score a clutch goal or two, just like he did in the Finals and refrain from mentioning that he's a Spartan.

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