Pass-Fail Marks for Detroit Red Wings' Top Stars as 2013-14 Season Winds Down

Isaac SmithAnalyst IMarch 21, 2014

Pass-Fail Marks for Detroit Red Wings' Top Stars as 2013-14 Season Winds Down

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    The Detroit Red Wings continued their roller-coaster season with a 5-4 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as their stars came to play when it mattered most.

    These stars haven't always had the chance to shine this season for Detroit, as the majority of them have missed significant time with injuries.

    More recently though, those who have had a chance to play have taken over games for the Wings.

    But do they pass or fail for their season grades as a whole?

     

    Note: "pass" or "fail" grades will be determined as to whether the Red Wings would be in a better or worse off position without the play of the respective player this season. 

    All statistics via NHL.com.

Henrik Zetterberg: Pass

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    To say Henrik Zetterberg is missed by the Detroit Red Wings would be stating the obvious.

    Zetterberg was the heart and soul of this team when he was healthy, but has not played since the first game of the Olympics, due to his back injury flaring up again.

    The Wings' captain had 48 points in 45 games for the Wings before missing the past month, after re-aggravating a herniated disk in his back.

    Zetterberg could be back in eight weeks, per MLive beat writer Ansar Khan, but that isn't a guarantee and the Wings will miss him greatly while he is on the shelf.

    Needless to say, he gets a "pass."

Pavel Datsyuk: Pass

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Pavel Datsyuk, like Zetterberg, is also the heart and soul of this team in all three zones on the ice.

    While those two have been out, Detroit's offense has struggled mightily to muster any kind of offense on a regular basis.

    Datsyuk is a catalyst on the power play, but also plays important minutes on the penalty kill as well. 

    Despite managing only 33 points in 39 games, Datsyuk's play has not dropped off a whole lot while he has been healthy.

    If he can come back healthy from a lower-body injury that has limited him to just five games since New Year's Day, the Red Wings would be ecstatic, as he provides so much to the lineup.

    The Magician definitely gets a "pass" for his grade.

Johan Franzen: Pass

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Johan Franzen has 35 points in 42 games, but since he has been thrust into full-time first-line minutes, he has excelled greatly.

    Franzen has four game-winning goals (three more than last year at this time), a higher shooting percentage than last season, one more power-play goal than last season and more points than last season.

    "The Mule" also has more hits than last year and a substantially higher faceoff percentage.

    Most importantly, however, Franzen has 29 points in his last 28 games played. In the absence of Zetterberg and Datsyuk, Franzen has taken the Wings on his back and carried the team.

    In the process, he has earned a "passing" grade.

Daniel Alfredsson: Pass

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Daniel Alfredsson comes to play whenever he is on the ice.

    Alfredsson likely wasn't initially considered a "star" player on the Red Wings with Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen in front of him statistically and Alfredsson being 41 years old.

    But Alfie has played his way into a "star" role with Detroit, putting up 42 points in 57 games this season. Although struggling at times, the former, long-time Ottawa Senators captain has found his groove in Detroit and has made himself an offensive threat on a consistent basis.

    Alfredsson was credited with an overtime- game-winning goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in Thursday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has recently found his game again, after not playing with Datsyuk or Zetterberg for the better part of 2014.

    He gets a "pass" for a grade because of his ability to come through when it seems like no other Red Wing is going to do so.

Niklas Kronwall: Pass

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Offense, defense, special teams—Niklas Kronwall does it all.

    Since stepping into the No. 1 defenseman role, Kronwall hasn't had it easy shouldering the load. But this season he has 43 points in 67 games, while missing only minimal time—unlike the other star players for Detroit.

    As Kronwall goes, so the Red Wings' power play seems to go. He has four goals and 21 points on the man advantage and has played substantial special teams time as well.

    Detroit's assistant captain has been the focal point of a young (and somewhat developing) Red Wings blue line. 

    Without blowing too much smoke, it is important to note that Kronwall has been credited with 44 giveaways and has had some trouble making some breakout passes, leading to some goals against.

    Nevertheless, for a No. 1 defenseman, Kronwall has done everything that has been asked of him in order to keep the Red Wings competitive, despite all of the injuries to the Red Wings' star players. As such, he deserves a "passing" grade, thus far.

Jimmy Howard: Fail

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    When a coach can't start his "No. 1" goalie on a consistent basis because his backup gives the team a better chance to win, that is a problem.

    Jimmy Howard was destined to be this team's No. 1 goalie, but he didn't do enough over the months of November and December to keep the Red Wings competitive over that stretch.

    Howard posted a measly 1-5-6 record between November 4 and January 1, as he watched his playing time go to backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson.

    In six of those games, Howard allowed three goals or more.

    Granted, the Red Wings defense has been abysmal this season—but Howard needs to bail out his team more often than he did in November and December.

    The bottom line is that, although he has been better of late, Jimmy Howard has not done enough to keep his team in the playoff race. 

    The Red Wings are still in contention for a playoff spot, but it has little to do with Howard (and his 16-16-10 record).

    Thus far, he gets a failing grade.