For the first few months of the season, things really couldn’t be better. 1st place in the league, four quality lines, strong D and great goaltending. In fact all we could complain about was a Oompa Lumpa who couldn’t find his game and a Modano that started slow before hitting his stride.
Lately though, our 3-4-2 run has us behind Philly and Dallas (…Dallas?) and we’ve hit a bit of a rut. So who’s keeping us afloat and who’s struggling a bit lately?
Patrick Eaves – Recently dubbed the “unscratchable one” for good reason, our Jesus lookalike has seven goals this year, including two in the past two games. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s just killer on the PK and seems to be able to play anywhere. He’s becoming one of my favorite players each and every shift. He’s earned his spot and shown he deserves to keep it.
Niklas Kronwall – Also has seven goals so far and while had a slow start, he’s really come on the last few weeks. One of the few players who been an even player in the last few games, he’s becoming a rock on the blueline.
Pavel Datsyuk – What can be said that hasn’t been already? He’s got 17 points his last twelve games and has 39 points this season so far. He’s had a few uncharacteristic turnovers the past couple games, but has more than made up for it in sheer brilliance.
Other notables: Tomas Holmstrom, Johnny Ericsson, Darren Helm
Todd Bertuzzi – With just a blazing hot start, Todd Bertuzzi lead the team for a long while in +/-. Well no more, he’s been a cold cold -11 in the past eight games and only has 1 point. I love the ‘tuzzi, but he’s disappeared during their cold run.
Henrik Zetterberg – I hate to put Z on here, but he’s been so inconsistent lately it needs to be mentioned. Three of the past four games, he’s finished with zero points and -2 rating. Sure, the other game was a 4 assist night. But I’d rather have a 1 point +1 night from Z every game rather than this.
Jimmy Howard – Another problem of inconsistency. However, this is how goaltending goes. He’s not playing bad, he’s just fighting the puck a little bit. Goaltending is a strange animal at times. Everyone has nights where you feel like you’ve never played before. The puck seems tiny and fast and you have no idea how the hell you are supposed to stop it. It happens. But one of the most frustrating things when I play are nights when I feel great and and moving well on the ice, but the puck still finds its way in. I could never explain it, but those nights happen. I’d make three big saves but miss one that I shoulda had. This is what is happening to Jimmy lately. He looks like he feels good out there, but things just aren’t going his way. The good news is that this is just one step away from getting on a roll again. The bad news is that its also one step away from a true slump. Hopefully he will fight through this and get back to his dominant ways soon.
Drew Miller – Another somewhat surprising pick, but while MIller hasn’t played bad this year, he’s certainly not played as well as he did last year. He’s a minus player (Helm and Eaves are a +5 and +4 respectively) and has only 4 points in 25 games, not garnering a point since November. He needs a little Just For Men for his game (and hair) right now, because he simply has not earned his spot over anyone lately, even Hudler.*
* This is simply because of Hudler’s potential, not the way he’s been playing. Happy’s actually been worse than simply cold lately, he’s been non-existent.
Other players I’d like to see more from lately: Johan Franzen, Brian Rafalski, Nick Lidstrom, Valtteri Filppula, Justin Abdelkader