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The A Team:
Johan Franzen- As Franzen goes, so goes the team. His 10 goals lead the team and he is among the league leaders as well. Any time he has not recorded a goal or an assist the team has lost. He also has scored at least one point in all but two of the team’s wins. While Datsyuk and Zetterberg get more national attention, the Mule is truly the driving force behind this team.
Valtteri Filppula- Filppula is off to a career year. He is on pace to blow away his career best numbers of 19 goals and 28 assist. He already has seven goals and 12 assist. Beyond his point total, he is playing the entire ice. His is a surprising plus eight on the season and his playing his best hockey of his career.
Jimmy Howard- Howard has been a beast this year. He has spent most of the season in the top five for goals against. His current 1.86 gaa has him tied for second. He is also tied for league lead in shutouts and wins. The slump that the Wings went through was not his fault, as he missed two of those games. In three of the games he did play in the team gave him no support, as the only had two goals over a three game span.
Nick Lidstrom- At 41, he is on pace for best goal season ever. He already has six goals, tied for second among defensemen in the league. His play is far beyond saying it is only great for a 40+ years old, instead he is just playing great. He came out of October with a negative plus/minus rating but has only had one negative game since.
Niklas Kronwall- After last season’s late surge many hoped the Kronwall was ready to step up as a top defender and hopefully be ready to fill the void of Lidstrom once he retires. So far this season he has played better than one could hope. He will likely blow by his career high in goals by the end of December. He is developing into a power play force as he already has three such goals. Beyond points, he is playing tough defense hitting people and blocking shots. He is among the league leaders in blocking shots and out paces second place on the Wings by more than 20.
Justin Abdelkader- Another player on pace for career numbers, Abdelkader is doing all of the little things coaches love to see. He hustles, bumps, grinds and covers the entire ice. He leads the team in hits and is earning more and more ice time.