The Red Wings’ Finn Is On Fire

Valtteri Filppula is becoming a force to be reckoned with…or at least the player the Red Wings have been waiting for. NHLHS Correspondent Christina Roberts gives a run-down on Filppula’s productivity so far this season.

By Christina Roberts

Well, it’s about damn time, Valtteri Filppula.

Right now, the first Finnish player drafted by the Detroit Red Wings is on pace for the best season of his career. He has ten goals and fifteen assists for 25 points in 30 games, and is rated a +10. He’s being projected to hit around 65 or 70 points by the end of the season, which easily trumps his career high of 40 points hit in the 2008-2009 season.

It is seriously about time for this 27-year-old.

I’ve been a fan of Filppula since he made it on the roster full time back in 2006-2007. I saw how much potential he had, and for seasons following that, I kept telling people how good he was going to be. And it was all because he had his sporadic moments of looking like the perfect cross between Pavel Datsyuk‘s mad deking skills and Henrik Zetterberg‘s ability to make a play out of nothing (and a wicked good wrist shot).

But season after season, Filppula never put up the numbers fans and the organization expected of him. And there were games where I was screaming myself hoarse at the television, hoping the Finn would hear me yelling, “STOP PASSING THE PUCK AND SHOOT!” Much like Datsyuk when he first started playing in the NHL, he had a knack for not taking the chances presented to him and instead continually passed the puck to linemates.

Filppula still has his moments of doing that, but this season, he is certainly more aggressive than seasons past. And it’s showing. Look at the numbers he’s been putting up so far. And it may also help that he’s found a rhythm with linemates Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler (who has been putting up better numbers than last season as well).

Everyone assumed last year was going to be Filppula’s breakout year where he would show his true potential. Toward the end of the season, when his numbers were pitiful with what everyone was expecting, there was a lot of chatter on my Twitter feed about trading Filppula for someone who would actually perform.

But the Red Wings organization was patient, much like they always are with their younger players and prospects. And for that, they are reaping the benefits of Filppula’s productivity. They can keep Datsyuk and Zetterberg on separate lines and not worry about whether the top two lines will perform.

This season, Filppula has definitely shot the puck more and taken those chances that I used to scream about. His numbers reflect that, too. 2011-2012 is the season I’ve been prophesying about for years now. And unless something drastic happens, the Finn is definitely poised to have the best season of his career.

Christina Roberts
NHLHS Detroit Red Wings Correspondent
Twitter: @franzenmuth