Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009-2010 Player Profiles: Valtteri Filppula...

OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 17 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:

Valtteri Filppula

2008-2009 Regular Season: 80 GP, 12-28-40, +/- 9, 42 PIM
2009 Playoffs: 23 GP, 3-13-16, +/- 8, 8 PIM

Season Highlight: Setting up the OT winner in Game 2 against Chicago.
Season Lowlight: I know it’s superficial, but oh, that hair. I don’t understand his fangirls.

Filppula put up a respectable 40 points last season as he bounced around between lines. There were times when he made stunningly good plays, but I often found myself frustrated with him. I’m not entirely sure why that was, but it’s not particularly important. Like the departed Samuelsson and Hudler, Filppula has a tendency to be maddeningly streaky. He also went through a phase last season when he seemed intent to set a record for most consecutive games played without bothering to take a shot on goal. Now that I think about it, that might have been the source of my frustration.

This is a strange thing for me to say, but I have a pretty good feeling about Filppula’s ’09-’10 campaign. For some reason, he’s always struck me as a guy who would deliver more when he has a feeling of more responsibility. This season he’s not going to be able to fade into the background of the Wings’ supporting cast. He certainly doesn’t need to be a star or the go-to-guy on a nightly basis, but he’s going to be counted on to make up for some of the offense that the team lost to free agency this summer. He’s been highly praised for his playmaking ability in the past, and the Wings are going to need him to step up this season and live up to that praise.

What he needs to do to make me happy: Get a new hair stylist.

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