Detroit Red Wings' 5 Most Impressive Players During 2013 Playoffs
Currently, they are heading into Game four's action on Thursday night with the potential to control their own destiny. With a win on Thursday the Wings can grab a three games to one series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
A lot of the integral pieces that have gotten Detroit to this point will continue to produce going into Game 4.
With some surprises like Detroit's third line and some disappointments, such as losing defenseman Danny DeKeyser due to injury, these playoffs have been a whirlwind for the Wings.
Here are the five best players from the Wings impressive postseason run so far.
5. Johan Franzen
When the playoffs come around, it seems like Johan Franzen likes to produce.
As of Monday, the Mule has 78 points in 98 career playoff games. He has kept up with his playoff pace with four goals and an assist through ten games in 2013.
But what is more encouraging is that he is facilitating more for his linemates (Datsyuk and Abdelkader) and continues to drive towards the net. He also gives the Red Wings a power forward presence on that first line but also a fair dose of skill.
He isn't flashy and most certainly he is not a fan favorite, but the Mule knows how to get the job done.
And when the playoffs come around you can be assured that he will carry the load for the team as they push towards another Stanley Cup.
4. Brendan Smith
The young defenseman has grown leaps and bounds—sometimes the hard way—during the postseason.
He has grown to become a viable two-way defenseman with his slick puck movement and gritty play. On the other end, Smith has made a few major mistakes in his own zone that resulted in a goal for the opposing team.
It's all a part of learning how to become a better player in the NHL. After all, this was Smith's first full season in the NHL after years of grooming in Grand Rapids.
So far he has two goals and two assists in ten games this postseason. While that may not be flashy, it shows that his offense is starting to come around. It also shows that he will be able to fill a top four role in Detroit's defense next season.
While he still may need to work on his discipline, the amount of knowledge that veteran Niklas Kronwall and former Red Wing defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom have instilled into this young defenseman looks to be paying dividends for the former Badger.
3. Detroit's Third Line
The unsung hero of the playoffs for the Detroit Red Wings has been their third line, which is comprised of rookies.
Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson are giving the opposing team's a lot to handle when they step foot on the ice. The line has a nice blend of size, scoring ability and speed to match up against the opponent.
Brunner and Nyquist have provided vital goals to keep the Red Wings playoff hopes alive. Joakim Andersson has won timely faceoffs and have chipped in with four assists.
Most importantly, this young line allows Babcock to stretch out his talent across three lines. Nyquist and Brunner are top six talents who have meshed together with a durable center who has good on ice instincts.
The future for all three of these players is bright and the playoffs helped us all realize that.
2. Henrik Zetterberg
The Captain has stepped up his game in his first postseason with his new role.
"Hank" carried the Red Wings past the Anaheim Ducks with a five-point effort between Games 6 and 7. Z had two assists in the Game 2 win against the Hawks last Saturday.
But, most importantly for Zetterberg, he has been able to neutralize the opposing team's best player. He has clearly gotten into the head of Chicago Jonathan Toews and his strong play against Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry proved to be the benefactor of winning that series.
Zetterberg has taken that next step. He leads the team in points with 10 and most importantly he gets the most out of his teammates.
It will be compelling to see what Z and his linemates of Filppula and Cleary will be able to do next as Game 4 looms.
1. Jimmy Howard
Without a doubt the Detroit Red Wings would not be here without their goaltender.
Jimmy Howard has stepped into these playoffs with a lot of unanswered questions for his playoff performances.
This time around the 29-year-old goaltender has helped the Red Wings become a complete team during the playoffs.
In ten playoff games Howard has a 6-4 record with a 2.43 GAA and a .923 Save Percentage. Most importantly, he has made timely saves to keep the Red Wings in these three games against the Blackhawks.
Unfortunately for Howard, the defense in front of him is still prone to making the big mistake and leaves him out to dry.
But that won't be an issue for a goalie who is using the playoffs as a case for his future career accolades, which he hopes can include a Stanley Cup.