With the Detroit Red Wings set to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it’s interesting to take a look at Valtteri Filppula’s current fortunes with the Bolts and Detroit’s lack of a No. 2 center at the moment. Stephen Weiss—the man that the Wings signed to take Filppula’s spot as the second-line center—is out of the lineup for another week at least after suffering a strained groin.
Per Ken Holland, #Redwings f Stephen Weiss day to day with sore groin.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) November 8, 2013
With Johan Franzen also out of the lineup, Detroit’s second line is in shambles. Coach Mike Babcock said that he wouldn’t break up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and that he didn’t feel comfortable playing Darren Helm in the second-line center role at this juncture since he just missed 18 months of hockey with a series of injuries and setbacks.
It seems that Babcock will have to go to Helm on the second unit though, as there’s really no one else for him to turn to at this point.
Babcock said Helm will center the second line tonight with Alfredsson and Tatar. Datsyuk still with Zetterberg and Bertuzzi.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) November 9, 2013
That stands in stark contrast to the situation in Tampa, where Filppula has really fit in nicely with the Lightning. Tampa’s General Manager Steve Yzerman spoke to the Tampa Tribune about what the center has been able to bring to the table this season so far:
We were looking for a responsible, two-way center that could play in all situations, and he has done that for us. He’s fit in very nicely. I think he’s enjoying playing with the players that we have in the style that we play. But again it was an important position for us, and we just felt he would be a real good fit. It is relatively early, but we are pleased with how he has fit in.
It is early, but it seems that the Wings might have made an error in letting Filppula go. The team balked at the forward’s asking price, and that’s when Tampa Bay swooped in the snatch up the talented but inconsistent forward. He has six goals and six assists for the Bolts this season.
That total would be good for fourth on the Wings, and is four times more points than Weiss has posted as a Wing so far. This is a long season and any number of things can happen. At this juncture though, the Lightning are thriving because of their scoring depth while Detroit is struggling to piece together a decent top-six group.