Since the All-Star break essentially marks the half-way point for the season, I'm assigning grades to the Red Wings. I may assign grades to some of the other teams later this week.
Pavel Datsyuk- A. He has essentially been almost perfect this season. He leads in points and assists and continues to be one of Detroit's strongest defensive players... all while centering the top line and generating buzz about the Selke, Lady Byng, and Hart trophies.
Henrik Zetterberg- A-. Has struggled to adjust to playing without Datsyuk, though his rotating wingers may have something to do with this. He's looked a lot better since Hossa was bumped down to the second line.
Marian Hossa- A-. He's had some pointless streaks, but he also carried the team earlier in the season when the Stanley Cup hangover was very obvious.
Johan Franzen- B+. He needs to figure out how to stay healthy, but last I heard he was leading the team in game winning goals and has adjusted well to playing on both the first and second lines.
Jiri Hudler- A-. Some bad defensive play, but he's having a career season for points- he's already passed his record for goals in a season. I'd be more impressed if he could maintain that level of play for longer than 12 minutes or so per game.
Valtteri Filppula- B. I really wish I could give him an A, because he's my favorite Red Wing, but he just hasn't earned it yet. He needs to shoot the puck more. However, his defensive play has been excellent, and his point totals are decent considering that he's centering the checking line.
Mikael Samuelsson- B. He is SO streaky, but he gets the points when it really counts. I feel like he won't be around next year due to salary cap issues.
Tomas Holmstrom- A-. He's essentially still fulfilling his same role on the team, and has been an instrumental part in the power play this year. I wish his defensive play was stronger, but since he usually plays with Datsyuk his +/- is decent.
Dan Cleary- B+. He'd probably get a higher grade if he wasn't switching lines so much. I think his production will increase a lot in the second half if he stays with the same line for several games.
Tomas Kopecky- B. Plays decently well, but his hits haven't brought the same energy Drake's did. He's another player I expect to see traded or lost to free agency.
Kris Draper- B-. Still wins a lot of face offs, but has a horrific +/- and 2 of his 3 goals were empty netters. Overall the fourth line's defensive play needs to pick up a lot before the playoffs.
Kirk Maltby- B-. Basically the same issue as Draper- he doesn't usually produce offensively, but he doesn't need to. If he can tighten up the backchecking he'll be fine.
Darren McCarty- C. Has barely played, but has provided some much-needed grit when he does dress.
Nick Lidstrom- A. "The Perfect Human" has lived up to his label. He had a slow start due to a preseason puck to the face, but he's looked Norris-esque lately.
Brian Rafalski- A-. He's third in the league for points by a defenseman. His passing could use some work, but he's been really consistent.
Niklas Kronwall- B+. Has been consistent, but it'd be nice to see some of those big hits from last year's playoffs.
Brad Stuart- B+. Brings a lot of energy and hitting, but his passing could use a little work. He and Kronwall seem to have communication issues sometimes.
Andreas Lilja- B+. I've actually been very impressed with him this year, his defensive play has been MUCH better and he looks great on the PK.
Brett Lebda- B-. He's looked great on the breakout, he's passing well, and he's one of the best skaters on the team. However, he takes penalties at the worst times.
Derek Meech- B+. I almost threw him in with the forwards because he's played more games there, but Babcock and Holland seem to want him to play defense. He's looked really solid, especially given his inconsistent playing time and linemates.
Chris Chelios- C. Hasn't had much effect, good or bad, other than pushing Detroit right up against the cap. I sincerely hope that he retires this summer.
Chris Osgood- B. Extremely inconsistent, but he's had some issues with injuries. His playing has improved as he's had to compete with Conklin.
Ty Conklin- A. I would almost argue that he was a bigger signing than Hossa. He's played extremely well, very consistently. I would like to see him resigned.
Coaches and Management
Mike Babcock- A. I firmly believe that Babcock is one of the best, if not the best, coaches in the league. He's done an excellent job keeping the team focused and has found good line combinations through all the crazy injuries.
Ken Holland- A. Kept last year's team, added Hossa and Conklin, and is apparently very close to resigning Zetterberg. In Ken Holland we trust.
Mike and Marian Illitch- A. The rings are beautiful, and it was very classy of them to bring Aaron Downey and Darren Helm to the presentation ceremony.
The Detroit Red Wings Overall
I'll give them an A-. They look strong, but they've lost some key games and need to regain focus between now and the playoffs, especially if they come up against San Jose in the Western Conference Final.
Some thoughts from an outsider
11 months ago