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Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Drew Miller
By now everyone in Hockeytown knows that Filppula is having a career year. He already has 13 goals and 33 points. His career highs are 19 and 40 respectively. His emergence has been a major reason why Detroit has played so well this season.
At the start of the season both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were both struggling, but Filppula’s seven points in their first five games helped the team get off to a 5-0 start. He has only really had one bad streak during the season, when he went cold for six games; Detroit lost each of those games. Beyond the scoring and assists, he has also improved his overall play and covers the entire ice now.
Jiri Hudler had the bull's-eye on him entering the season. Many fans wanted him traded after his horrible season last year. After returning from a year in Russia he posted career lows in goals and just looked lost on the ice.
He started the season on a hot streak with two goals and two assists in the first four games. He has been inconsistent with several hot and cold streaks so far this year, but just having any hot streak is an improvement over last year.
He has already passed last year's goal total with 11, which is good for fourth on the team. He is on pace to surpass his best season of 23 goals. He has moved up and sees time on the top two lines now. That has helped him score nine goals over the past 14 games.
Drew Miller is the little engine that could. He has bounced around the league, playing for four teams in six years, but seems to have finally found a home in Detroit. He is all hustle and quite simply just produces when he is on the ice.
He already has seven goals on the season, which is only three off his career best, which he has done twice. He should easily blow past that this season. His scoring has not hurt his defense as he is plus-11 as well.
While the team will always look for Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Johan Franzen to be the scorers, having Filppula, Hudler and Miller all step up not only gives the team scoring punch on several lines. It also forces opponents to defend the entire team and not just focus on two or three players.