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Abel to Yzerman

Impressive Or Not

Coming off a win in Toronto, probably a good time to ask you any Detroit players who have surprised you this season?

My list would include Jensen, Bernier, Athanasiou and Larkin has been more impressive than I thought he would be.

On the negative side, Abdelkader and Vanek, but I will wait a few more game before passing additional judgment.

Kronwall, we know his issues and deserves a pass in my mind because he keeps giving his all just as most of the Wings have.


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TreKronor's avatar

AA and Larkin have both absolutely impressed me. Especially AA. Larkin has taken such a big step forward this season, it’s wonderful to see.

Glendenning doesn’t necessarily impress me, but every game I admire what he brings to this team. He has a lot of heart.

Kronwall isn’t as effective as he used to be, but he’s just as passionate as ever. I think he is criticised too much, he is still a top 4dman,at least on this team. I respect the guy for not just giving up and collecting pay on IR.

Posted by TreKronor on 12/07/18 at 11:15 AM ET


Larkin by far.
Jensen is my 2nd pick. Perfect example of a player who said to himself, I’m taking someone’s job and staying in the lineup. He’s played very well since being inserted into the lineup.
Bert is my 3rd pick. Him and Larkin are by far the hardest working guys every game.

Disappointments are Abby and Vanek. At least Vanek is done after this season and Abby is only going to get worse.
Mantha also. He seems to be the type of player that always leaves you thinking he could do more

Posted by George0211 on 12/07/18 at 11:16 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Mike Green is not getting nearly enough credit.  Offensively or defensively.

Posted by Primis on 12/07/18 at 11:41 AM ET

Paul's avatar

You’re right P, the team has improved too when he returned.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 12/07/18 at 11:47 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Been saying for a few weeks now, considering we waived Nick Jensen in Sept, and HHHT had him in the garbage bin in April, nobody has exceeded expectations more than Jensen.

That said, hard to argue that Larkin hasn’t taken another step forward from a skill/offensive perspective and has “arrived” as a legit star in this league assuming this is his new level.

I will toss Howie in the mix, he’s playing outstanding.

IMO, AA is finally playing up to his potential, he’s always had a high ceiling, he just wasn’t reaching for it. That said, I’m not sure I’m impressed by his play, more so that he’s finally putting in the effort in to reach it, but I will say, there’s more, he’s still 120% offense effort, and 80% defensive IMO, for as good as he has been, he can be better, he can be better than Larkin IMO if he had the same drive.

I did not think Cholo would be as good as he has been out of the gate, for a rookie dman in this league, it has been impressive.

I will give a little love for Nyquist too who I routinely beat up, and I agree Kronwall is having his best season in some time, but struggles still with the speed.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerGod's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 12/07/18 at 12:06 PM ET


I’m really enjoying watching this team. Larkin has taken a huge step and am very surprised how well is playing against other teams top players.

Nyquist is a player who is absolutely battling. I think he’s really improved his game the last couple of years, and he is getting rewarded for it production wise this year. I think he is benefiting from getting away from the slower paced Zetterberg lines he’s been a part of and him and Larkin have a lot of creativity together.I think he is a very valuable piece going forward and I would resign him preferably for 4 years max rather than trade him at the deadline for a 2nd rounder.

I was really down on Mantha and AA at the start of the year as it looked like effort was an issue at times. But they have really picked it up. I do think Larkins effort and desire does inspire the younger guys on the team.

Bert is incredible, I think he is just scratching the surface. He has a lot more skill than I think he even realizes and when the confidence grows a little more with the puck on his stick he’s going to be a great player.

Glendening, Jensen, De LA rose are all proving to be very competent role players at good value.

Posted by mikeywhy on 12/07/18 at 12:17 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

I was pretty pessimistic with my expectations this year so most of my surprises are positive.

I did not expect Cholowski to be this far along in his development. He still has a lot of rookie mistakes, but he’s quarterbacking an NHL PP unit in his first pro year. That’s impressive.

I was ready to put DK out to pasture after the end of last year. But he’s playing tough minutes again and not getting killed possession-wise.

de La Rose is just a much more solid player than I expected the Wings to be able to get on the waiver wire.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 12/07/18 at 12:20 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Nyquist has been the engine of this team since game one.  Even when things were ugly, he was playing the right way and generating chances.  Now that the team is doing well offensively on a regular basis, instead of fading, he has become an integral part of it.

Having said that, Howard (and Bernier) is the reason this team wins games.  Our d is still a dumpster fire in our own end, and Howard has played some amazing hockey to keep them in many of the games that they have pulled out in the end.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 12/07/18 at 12:47 PM ET


They’re all better because this team isn’t playing the garbage style hockey Blashill had watching the previous three seasons. Has Blashill evolved into a NHL coach or has Dan Bylsma finally showed Blashill the proper way to coach or a combination there of? Next question is who is KH going to pilfer if he goes to Seattle? I said this is a good team, really good. Now that they’re playing a winning style of hockey and they’re gaining experience. A few tweaks and we’re on our way.

Posted by stateofmifan on 12/07/18 at 01:02 PM ET

Paul's avatar

In once Detroit related news, XO on waivers by Montreal.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 12/07/18 at 01:04 PM ET

AzWingsFan's avatar

Larkin by far has elevated his game to a new level. I would like to see less temper tantrums and looking to the refs when he doesn’t get the call.

Been a fan of Jensen for a long time but think he has made the step into solid NHL defenseman. He has obviously gotten much stronger over the summer and has really shown in his play. Huge steps this year.

Glendenning, mostly from the first month of season, only guy who didn’t take a shift off in the shit show first 10 games.  Showing leadership he hasn’t the past seasons and is playing with a lot more offensive upside rather than dump and fall back mentality.

Mantha and AA finally starting to play like NHL’ers and giving it every shift, playing with grit and passion this year that hasn’t been there the past years.

Cholo, just wow, never would have thought.
Green and Kronner have a very positive influence on Cholo and playing within their games not trying to do more than they can.

Abby and Dekeyser my biggest let downs, no growth in their games look lost a lot of times on ice like they can’t keep up.

Ericsson, why is he even getting ice time? Does nothing but spin around and hunt for the Puck, throws the Puck more often onto opposing players sticks than teammates, out of position half the time.. Should be in AHL…

Everyone else is playing hard with a lot of passion and speed, win or lose I have been loving the effort and style this team is playing.

I don’t knock Blash like others, but I think the bashes should listen to what Larkin said earlier in season when they started winning.  That was he was finally playing the way coach has been preaching for 3 years prior. So maybe it was the players not so much the system that made Blash look so bad. Don’t get me wrong, coach needs to improve and I think Bylsma has helped there.

Posted by AzWingsFan on 12/07/18 at 01:24 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

. Has Blashill evolved into a NHL coach or has Dan Bylsma finally showed Blashill the proper way to coach or a combination there of?Posted by stateofmifan on 12/07/18 at 12:02 PM ET


It seems a majority of the players have taken steps forward this season and not just the “kids”. For me player wise, there really is not any big surprises. Most have the talent to play at this level but it wasn’t happening the last few seasons. There seemed to be confusion from the “Process.”  Either the process has sunk in or Bylsma has helped show the way. Does not really matter which one it is, I am ecstatic to see it. Wasn’t a Lose for Hughes guy.

Finally the coaching staff is getting what they should out of the players. That is my biggest surprise.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 12/07/18 at 01:30 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

We WIN! Again!

Who are these guys? wink

How much influence is Bylsma having on this group?

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 11/10/18 at 09:55 PM ET

Larkin is proving himself a leader every single game. The younger vets are finally coming along and with youth comes speed.
Having Bylsma behind the bench is having an impact IMHO. He’s been in the big leagues, has been to the SCF twice, and won a Cup. Maybe he’s coaching the coach. wink

I’m just enjoying the ride for as long as it lasts. It’s entertaining hockey and that’s about as much as we could hope for this season.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 12/07/18 at 02:54 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Larkin by far has elevated his game to a new level. I would like to see less temper tantrums and looking to the refs when he doesn’t get the call.
Posted by AzWingsFan on 12/07/18 at 12:24 PM ET

I know I am going to get beat up on this comment, but I haven’t seen anyone react like Larkin does at times since Keith Primeux.  gulp

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 12/07/18 at 03:08 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

I’m just enjoying the ride for as long as it lasts. It’s entertaining hockey and that’s about as much as we could hope for this season.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 12/07/18 at 01:54 PM ET

Yup, me too Kate. Its nice to see competitive hockey. As longs as they play hard and smart, I don’t even mind a loss.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 12/07/18 at 03:11 PM ET


For me Larkin and AA with Cholowski and Ras exceeding my expectations and I like what de la Rose has brought to the team.

And I think Blashill deserves some credit This team is playing hard most nights.  Most of their shortcomings are talent related not due to lack of effort.

Posted by Steve1306 on 12/07/18 at 04:02 PM ET

SauceBoss's avatar

I think everyone has covered who is really impressing this year (Larks, Greener, AA, Gus)

Im gonna have to jump on Abby too. One of the worst passers I’ve seen play in the nhl. Constantly into guys feet or flubs it way ahead them. And for someone who’s supposed to be the “tough guy” on the team, looking out for our skilled guys, he falls way short in that department too. Think he’s gone pretty soft after getting man handled and his face broken by Troy Brouwer.

And Frk… Im trying to give him a break cuz I know its hard when you’re hardly ever in the lineup but he makes terrible decisions with his shots and his shots are terrible. When he was playing consistently he seemed calmer and had some good passes but I don’t think he’ll make it past this year. It’s either back to the ahl or heading home to Czech Republic.

Ehn is just a faster Joakim Andersson

Posted by SauceBoss on 12/07/18 at 04:23 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Ehn is just a faster Joakim Andersson

Posted by SauceBoss on 12/07/18 at 03:23 PM ET

To be fair, if he’s a faster Joker, then that makes him a pretty solid Bottom Six guy, because foot speed/skating was one thing that really held him back at the NHL level.  DET will need some of those kind of guys as they phase out guys like Helm, Abdelkader, etc.  You’ve got guys like Smith and Turgeon on the way that might make it or not, but Ehn certainly can handle Bottom Six NHL duty it looks like.

I think with de la Rose, MTL might have taken him a little bit for granted.  Here’s what Omar White of “A Winning Habit” (MTL Fansided Habs blog) said of de la Rose at the time of DET claiming him off waivers:

“It’ll be an interesting opportunity for de La Rose with the Red Wings. They are in a full rebuild stage where few spots on the roster are set in stone. He could easily join up and make a mark on the team playing with some of Detroit’s speedy wingers.”

And that’s somewhat what he’s done.  He also has made a mark in the faceoff circle, and while he’s not offensive minded, I think he’s helped a little the process of settling down the defense corps.

I would say de la Rose joining the team off waivers, Green returning from injury, and Larkin’s game going to the next level (especiall yin the faceoff circle) all have been big contributors to DETs success, as well as both Howard and Bernier having big games.

Posted by Primis on 12/07/18 at 05:23 PM ET


I’ve been keeping a quiet eye on the teams fortunes.  Hey am I the only one surprised we are close to a wild card spot?  So lets continue and let the kids play and see what we need to do to continue rebuild.
Observations say lets shop Nielsen, Vanek, Kronwall, is Kenny shopping? he should be however I think Kenny has been blacklisted by most GMs another reason why a new GM is desperately needed.  The improved play can be attributed to Blysma not Blasshell.  All aspects of coaching have improved, Blashill is in way over his head he’s just trying to save a little face time to promote Blysma.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 12/07/18 at 05:25 PM ET


I think Kenny has been blacklisted by most GMs


Is that before or after he took Rangers and Vegas to school?

Posted by George0211 on 12/07/18 at 05:31 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Observations say lets shop Nielsen, Vanek, Kronwall, is Kenny shopping?

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 12/07/18 at 04:25 PM ET

All 3 have NTC’s or NMC’s, and Vanek & Kronwall are on expiring contracts.  Good luck getting anything for them on expiring deals and with Kronwall about set to retire.  Helm also is on a NTC along with Abdelkader and Daley and Nyquist IIRC.

The good news is the clauses start to clean out mostly in the next year or two.  I think after two more years there’s only 1 or 2 clauses that will be left on the roster, Nielsen and DeKeyser.

Deals might not be there with all the NTC’s, although I think Daley’s clauses expire right before the trade deadline.

Posted by Primis on 12/07/18 at 07:25 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Very impressed with Larkin’s play this year. He’s gotten smarter, better commitment defensively and his drive has found yet another gear. And he wasn’t really lacking in any of those categories prior to this season.

Cholowski of course has been a surprise. The way he’s stepped up I think is greater than I expected from defensive prospect in the organization. He reminds me a lot of Kronwall in his prime with the way he skates and moves the puck.

de la Rose has been an amazing waiver acquisition. He works hard every shift, makes smart plays, is always in the right position and is willing to sacrifice his body. While not a constant scoring threat, not completely lost offensively either He’s like Patrick Eaves before we lost him to all the injuries. Loved that guy. Exactly what you want in a 3rd liner.

Abby has been a disappointment since he lost Datsyuk as his centerman (surprise!). It took him nearly 3 years on Pav’s wing to become a low end top line player, and without an otherworldly talent propping him up, he’s kinda lost. I’ve always thought Abby was a fine player, ideally on the 3rd line, but an utterly replaceable NHLer. His current contract just hurts.

Vanek has also not lived up to expectations. He looks slower than even his last stint with the team and I rarely even notice him on the ice. Here’s hoping its just a slow start (which now that I look he’s got 10 points to Abby’s 9 in 8 fewer games), but I was hoping for a little bit more. That said, I think he’s a good influence on the younger players, and the contract is not hurting anything.

Daley has not impressed me either. He’s not awful, but again not living up to expectations. He seems to be slowing down fast as well and is often just a half step behind on his coverage. I was also under the impression we’d be getting a bit better offensive skills than we’ve seen since we signed him. Not just in points, but first pass and skating the puck out of trouble.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 12/07/18 at 07:36 PM ET


1) Larkin - he is a real star, I did not expect that
2) Blashill - yes, I know he is not a player, but I have to mention him. I have been saying for all the years that I have no idea what coach he is because I strongly believe he was never in charge of the team. The team belonged to KH and Z imo. I said Blashill needs to get Kron off the PP just to show who is in charge of this team. He needed to bench E just to show who is the boss. He did both of these things this year and I feel like now this is finally HIS team and it turns out he is not as bad as we thought. For one thing he pushed enough buttons to make sure we have a real TEAM now with players hustling all over the ice. After the start we had, that’s pretty impressive.
3) Jensen - all of sudden looks like a legitimate #4
4) AA - mostly because of his defensive contributions this year
5) Green - totally opposite records with and without him
6) Howard - would be higher on this list, but last game is still so fresh
7) Cholowski - for a player so many were calling a draft bust, he looks pretty good, top 4 with top 2 potential.

I also want to give credit to Bert and Glen, but I pretty much expected what I see from them and the topic of discussion is who surprised me the most. I also think Mantha was coming into his own (in terms of effort) for about last 10 games before the injury.


1) Vanek - just too slow for today’s NHL. I knew he is slow, but it seemed like either he slowed down this year or the league became faster
2) Abby - a little better lately, but overall on the season very limited positive for all this ice time
3) Nielsen - also has been better lately, but totally mia for the first quarter of the season
4) DK - I just do not see any improvement from him

Posted by VPalmer on 12/07/18 at 09:58 PM ET


Ericsson, why is he even getting ice time?

To be fair, he had a fantastic game against Toronto imo.

Posted by VPalmer on 12/07/18 at 10:05 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Larkin by far has elevated his game to a new level. I would like to see less temper tantrums and looking to the refs when he doesn’t get the call.

I agree on that statement as I don’t want him to turn out to be like Crybaby in Pittsburgh. Also as many have mentioned there is improvement by many players this season to date, but the most entertaining for my Wife and myself is Bert. He knows where to find the so called quiet spots around the net, and he is feisty.  LOL

Posted by bigfrog on 12/07/18 at 11:17 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com