3 Unsung Heroes of the Detroit Red Wings' 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Run
These players I highlighted are expected to be the best every game, regardless of the occasion and the magnitude of the game.
As with any championship hockey team, there are always the role players who may not be recognized for their contributions.
For this list, there were many possibilities. This season has been full of unsung heroes for the Red Wings in their run toward a Stanley Cup.
With the way head coach Mike Babcock carefully crafts his lineup, he's been getting the most out of every player this postseason.
Here are the three most important contributors that have been unsung during the team's run toward the Cup.
3. Jakub Kindl
Coming into this season, Jakub Kindl was the biggest question mark for the Red Wings on their defense.
Because of issues with depth on the Red Wings defense, Kindl was frequently scratched from the lineup. When he was playing, there were spurts that made you believe he was ready for a full-time NHL role. There were other times where his gaffes only proved that his lack of playing time hindered his game.
The 26-year-old defenseman finally won a full-time role after two seasons of being the seventh defenseman on the team. Injuries were a large factor in his full-time role this year, but he quickly showed his worth.
And he's continued to do that so far this postseason. He scored a pivotal goal in Game 4 against the Hawks on the power play that gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead.
Not only was that his first goal for the playoffs but that was also his first career game-winning goal in the playoffs.
Along with chewing up valuable minutes on the PK this series with Carlo Colaiacovo, Kindl is making it tough for GM Ken Holland to choose whether or not to bring him back next season.
Jakub will be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of this season.
2. Jonathan Ericsson
Big E upends Bickell.
Many of the same questions that fans ask about Brendan Smith were once pinned on Ericsson.
There was a thought that Ericsson's tendency to turn the puck over would plague him during his career. Luckily, he has matured on the back end and chews up valuable minutes on the penalty kill for the Red Wings.
In the current series with Chicago, there has not been a steadier player on defense than No. 52. He has only three points in 13 playoff games, but he is a plus-three. Also, he has used his natural strength to upend opponents in the corners, which is a good sign that Big E is getting more comfortable being physical.
Above is a video of Ericsson using his physicality during Game 4 in Detroit.
This hit on Bryan Bickell is a good indicator of what Ericsson does every night for this hockey team.
It is quickly becoming clear that Jonathan Ericsson is a solid option on defense for Detroit.
1. Joakim Andersson
In a postseason without Darren Helm, the void left at center has been filled by Joakim Andersson.
A responsible player on both ends of the ice, Andersson has been the steady hand for Detroit's high-octane third line of Andersson, Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist.
He came into the NHL because of injuries during the season and quickly provided in the offensive side of the game. As the season waned, he quickly became better with winning draws and eating minutes on a penalty kill that grew on the fly.
When the playoffs began, it was Andersson who was giving the Red Wings strong shifts on defense. He was also facilitating the play more with two crafty linemates.
And then Andersson delivered when his team needed it the most in a pivotal Game 6 at the Joe with a goal that fluttered by Corey Crawford to give the 2-1 edge to the Red Wings.
If the Red Wings look to advance to the Western Conference finals, it will be because of this timely goal and many more responsible plays that Andersson has made to help the squad force two Game 7s.