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Dominating Mule

from Craig Custance of ESPN (paid subscription),

On his second goal, he took a pass from Zetterberg behind Hiller and drove to the net untouched, stuffing it past the Ducks goalie. Franzen beat a stationary Winnik to the front of the net, proving how dangerous he can be in that spot if Ducks defenders don't put a body on him.

And that's the challenge moving forward for Anaheim. If it wants to slow down the Mule, he needs to fear more than pucks flying for his midsection or a quick shove after he scores a goal.

He's a big, powerful force, and he will continue to dominate down low if the Ducks don't raise their physical game to match it. Because there's no doubt Franzen has raised his already.

"When he gets his mean streak going, that's when he plays his best hockey. He can be a force out there when he's using his body," Howard said. "It's just the playoffs. He enjoys this time of year. He has a blast out there."

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Primis's avatar

This is why it amazes me for as dominant as he sometimes is in the postseason, and as cheap as his cap hit is (and it IS cheap, $4m/yr for 30 goals reg. season and who scores well in postseason too)... why some Wings fans can’t leave him the heck alone.

He takes huge amounts of punishment out there (especially in the postseason), and at times can still carry the team offensively.  Wings fans hate the term/length, but forget that his cap hit is equivalent or below to what Hudler got in CGY.  His teammates seem to “get” him and not be down on him ever.  They seem to respect him, even admire him sometimes.  That tells me a lot.

Mule is a bargain and always had been.  That some fans expect/want him to be even more still is not anyone’s fault but their own.  Appreciate what he is, and that he was drafted to be a checking center that some people said was taken too early.  And that’s he signed for just under $4m/yr.

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 10:12 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

I like Franzen too. He’s won me back. Now I see a little clearer why we let traitor #81 walk and kept Mule.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 10:20 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I like Franzen too. He’s won me back. Now I see a little clearer why we let traitor #81 walk and kept Mule.
Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:20 AM ET

*headscratch*

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/03/13 at 10:21 AM ET

Primis's avatar

*headscratch*

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/03/13 at 11:21 AM ET

Hossa.  He’s talking about Hossa.  Had the Wings kept Hossa, Franzen likely would have been the casualty to stay under the cap.  Instead they let Hossa go sign in CHI until roughly the year 3076.

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 10:28 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

Still baffled to this day why Holland doesn’t give Hossa more than 1 year. Then we could have traded him and got something besides fuched over

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 10:32 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Hossa.  He’s talking about Hossa.  Had the Wings kept Hossa, Franzen likely would have been the casualty to stay under the cap.  Instead they let Hossa go sign in CHI until roughly the year 3076.
Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 11:28 AM ET

That’s not what the headscratch was about.
Year 3076 hahahahaaaaa NICE! LOL

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/03/13 at 10:32 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Yeah I don’t get it either Vlad.

People are hard on him because we snuck into the playoffs starting the week at 9th and getting lucky minny shit the bed to open up the 7th slot.

We weren’t great int he regular season and we needed vets more than ever.  I’m glad he finally decided to show up, just hate how streaky he is.  Isn’t he getting paid for the regular season too?  Not to mention he’s billed as our top sniper but he goes SO LONG without scoring goals, that cost us points in the reg season.

What was homers cap hit? 20 goal scorer, Franzen isn’t averaging too much better.  Homer didn’t take the regular season off.  I guess I have a shitty tolerance for shitty efforts when I’m paying an extra 50.00 on my cable bill every month to watch him shit the bed.


I didnt’ even fuchin’ come in here to talk about that shit but if you wanna try the “well lets rub their nose in shit” like I forgot about him coasting through almost the entire HALF A SEASON, and the season before he didn’t score a goal after Feb 2.  His lone playoff goal accidently bounced off his shin.

I don’t even fuching remember what I was going to say initially

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 10:33 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

headscratch I imagine was about him being a traitor Primis.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 10:34 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Still baffled to this day why Holland doesn’t give Hossa more than 1 year. Then we could have traded him and got something besides fuched over

Hossa wasn’t staying for any amount of money.  He gave us the shaft for the same reason he gave it to Pittsburgh.  He was anxious; he wanted a new home.

Posted by MoreShoot on 05/03/13 at 10:36 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

What was homers cap hit? 20 goal scorer, Franzen isn’t averaging too much better.  Homer didn’t take the regular season off.  I guess I have a shitty tolerance for shitty efforts when I’m paying an extra 50.00 on my cable bill every month to watch him shit the bed.


And I don’t make 4m a year, I’m more hand-to-mouth, 50.00 is considerable to watch someone spend whole months at a time mailing it in.  Just saying.

All that said, I’ve defended him before and for his cap hit I like him, but I"M SURE someone’s going to come in here and say I’m bashing Holland and hate Mule and want to blow up the team and to shut up cause you all know what I think before I say it.  Even though you’re clearly still asking why we think what we think…

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 10:37 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

He’s not a traitor. I’m just a psycho wings fan. I’d have taken huge bucks too. I respect 81 because he said we match chi’s offer he’d stay. We couldn’t or wouldn’t. I just believe something could have been worked out where we get something, marians happy, and he’s on another team not chicago.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 10:44 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

Mule is a bargain

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 11:12 AM ET

Just to be clear, my argument was never that Franzen’s cap hit is bad right now, my argument is that his cap hit is going to be terrible from 2015-2020.

Franzen at $3.9 million right now is great. Franzen at $3.9 million between the ages of 35-40 is big trouble.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 05/03/13 at 10:49 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

We’re nowhere in trouble with Mule than what some other teams are gonna be in.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 10:54 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

And I don’t make 4m a year, I’m more hand-to-mouth, 50.00 is considerable to watch someone spend whole months at a time mailing it in.  Just saying.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 11:37 AM ET

Ditto.  I acknowledge that the pros are greater than the cons with Franzen.  I just want consistency.  If he played like this for even half the season the Wings probably could have had home ice.  I just get tired of the constant sandbagging.  Anytime the Wings don’t have their back against the wall (like last night going into the third) Franzen, and Z for that matter, fade away.  It gets old.

 

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/03/13 at 10:59 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Franzen at $3.9 million between the ages of 35-40 is big trouble.

except that seems like the perfect cap hit to trade a guy to a team who is looking for a veteran with tons of playoff experience.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/03/13 at 11:03 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

HockeytownOverhaul…

if you send me $25 a month I’ll hook up my webcam and you can watch me mail it in 40 hours a week…

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/03/13 at 11:04 AM ET

Avatar

I’m not sure why people complain about the term either.  $2.1M is the average salary now.  It will be $4 million in 2020, but I bet he retires well before then anyway.  He’ll be 40 then and only making $1 million in real dollars (the year before too).  There’s no way he plays for that.  And even if he does, who cares when the cap is $120 million?

Posted by jkm2011 on 05/03/13 at 11:05 AM ET

TKShreve's avatar

HTO -

No sweat. I can see where you are coming from. For years I was anxious to see what Franzen could do with a full season to perform in the wake of his break out year in the playoffs. You could almost say I had the moneybags in my eyes, blinding me from what kind of player he truly is. I really expected him to be a 40+ goal scorer with the potential to take it even higher.

But Franzen is a streaky player. He questionably mails it in for periods at a time like you said. He came back weak this year, and seemed really soft on the puck. But if the playoff beast that is the “Mule” is waking up, I’ll take every penny of it and sit by contently as he does best what he does. Like a goalie, Franzen has the ability to “steal a game” all by himself.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 05/03/13 at 11:11 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I’m glad he finally decided to show up, just hate how streaky he is.  Isn’t he getting paid for the regular season too?  Not to mention he’s billed as our top sniper but he goes SO LONG without scoring goals, that cost us points in the reg season.

What was homers cap hit? 20 goal scorer, Franzen isn’t averaging too much better. 

I don’t even fuching remember what I was going to say initially

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 11:33 AM ET

*sigh*  Now might be a good time for you to look around on CapGeek at market value for goalscorers.

Also go look at Franzen’s numbers over past 5 seasons.  I don’t feel like posting them again for the 5th or 6th time so people can ignore them because they don’t fit their argument.

Alex Semin is more-inconsistent than Franzen, has a bit higher upside and a bit lower downside quite frankly, has NO physical aspect to his game whatsoever unless you count slap fights, is practically made of glass, completely disappears in the playoffs usually, and just signed an extension for 7 million a year for like 4 years in Carolina.  SEVEN MILLION.

Patric Hornqvist signed in NAS for $4.25m/yr with a 30 and 27-goal campaign to his name, as well as a 21 and what projects out to a 16 goal season this year.

Martin Erat is about as reliable a guy to score around 20 goals a year for his whole career makes $4.4m/yr and WAS was eager to trade for him at that salary to help their scoring.

And as I said, in perhaps the ultimate example of market value Jiri Hudler, who scored more than 20 goals what, once his whole career?... is making in CGY slightly more a year than Franzen does, at $4m/yr even.  THAT is just the going rate on goalscorers.  Really THINK about that.  Hudler.  Jiri.  Freaking.  Hudler.

Look around the league.  The guys that score, even inconsistently, like Franzen all make way more.  And some that don’t even score as much as him make more.  A guy that can put in around 30 can command $5-6m easy on the open market.  Franzen’s hit is $3.95m.  That *is*a bargain.  Really, look around on CapGeek.  It doesn’t matter what you want, or expect, because the numbers don’t match the argument against him.

And Franzen takes a physical beating most of the others don’t have to endure.  It’s amazing how during the game people will complain about how Franzen got hacked 3 times in front of the net w/ no penalty… then wonder next game why he doesn’t have as much jump in his stride and OMG HE MUST BE LAZY AND COASTING!  I’m sure it wasn’t the 7 uncalled slashes to his calf he took, or the cheap shot to his knee, or the shot he took off his ankle, or…

Are there games where I wish he’d score?  Yup.  I wish Z would score sometimes too and wasn’t just a lousy 20 goal guy now.  I wish Cleary wasn’t useless much of the time, and I wished the Wings would list Quincey’s posiiton in the media guide as “Healthy Scratch”.  But it’s not about wishes.

So really, unless someone has a competent argument about how Franzen is a bad deal (pro tip: there isn’t one beyond “But I want him to score 40 a year even though there’s no evidence he can or should and it would be a huge outlier”), can we just GIVE UP ON THE FRANZEN HATE ALREADY?!

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 11:15 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

Franzen’s also got one hell of a playoff track record.  Glad someone also shares my exact sentiments about KQ.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:27 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

headscratch I imagine was about him being a traitor Primis.
Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 05/03/13 at 11:34 AM ET

Yepper.
I have two problems with Franzen: One is not his fault but I don’t like his contract length. The other has to do with his compete level during really long intervals. Often he seems disinterested, soft, lazy, etc. Even if he brought it every post season (which he hasn’t) I would like it but still wouldn’t like him. Having played sports my whole life the thing that sticks in my craw is a teammate who only plays hard when he wants to. It’s like work. Do you wanna work with a guy who will rock it a couple months a year but most of the time just loaf around, doing just enough to not get fired? Babcock finally putting him at center and killing penaties got him motivated.

I do hope Franzen dominates. We need it.

 

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 05/03/13 at 11:32 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I know it’s early, but guess who is tied for first (2-way tie) for points?

Damien Brunner

he’s gonna airhook one in, just watch.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/03/13 at 11:34 AM ET

Avatar

Look around the league.  The guys that score, even inconsistently, like Franzen all make way more.

Yeah, but not a single Wings fan gives a damn about what Hudler, Semin, Erat, Hornquist or anyone else on any other teams makes or how inconsistent those guys are because they not Red Wings.

If he were always busting his ass yet still being inconsistent it would be one thing but to watch Franzen play, he looks different when he’s scoring than when he’s not.  He looks like he’s not trying when he’s not scoring.  There are guys who go through dry spells but look like they’re absolutely trying and look like they’re frustrated that they’re not scoring.  When Mule isn’t scoring, it looks like he’s not trying and looks like he doesn’t care that he’s not scoring.  I’m not saying he doesn’t care, but it looks like he’s completely disinterested, and that’s frustrating.

You can show his year-by-year totals all you want, but that’s not releveant when you’re watching him play game-in and game-out. 

It doesn’t matter what you want, or expect, because the numbers don’t match the argument against him.

Regardless of his salary, when a goal-scorer goes on a seven-game, a six-game, and two four-game goalless streaks over the course of 41 games played, you can’t blame people for getting frustrated.

Posted by Garth on 05/03/13 at 11:37 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

This what I remember from last year I think.  If i’m wrong correct me.  Franzen never played center or killed penalties.  Filppula never took faceoffs and it seemed D and Z NEVER were on the ice together except on PP’s.  That last part I do know cuz they were both on my fantasy team.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:38 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

Really lost a lot of respect for fat walrus after those comments.  Jim Howard play like Craig Anderson, please.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:39 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

Really lost a lot of respect for fat walrus after those comments.  Jim Howard play like Craig Anderson, please.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:40 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I stopped reading when someone mentions Z coasts when the game doesn’t seem “on the line”.

You, sir, are an idiot.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 05/03/13 at 11:46 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

When Mule isn’t scoring, it looks like he’s not trying and looks like he doesn’t care that he’s not scoring. 

Garth, could it just be that it’s much easier to conclude that he’s trying when he IS scoring?  maybe the issue here is perception, not reality?

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/03/13 at 11:47 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

Franzen’s the same target that Shanahan once was.  he’s Franza-han

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 11:49 AM ET

Avatar

Garth, could it just be that it’s much easier to conclude that he’s trying when he IS scoring?

Either way, it’d be cool if he were giving the same effort all the time.

Posted by Garth on 05/03/13 at 12:07 PM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I wonder how much this had to do with the Wings meltdown in the third period…

“We lost DeKeyser, that was a big blow and when (defenseman Jonathan) Ericsson didn’t have any skates, he lost his edges, we were down to four (defensemen) and we didn’t make any plays.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130503/SPORTS0103/305030376#ixzz2SFd3b1kx

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 05/03/13 at 12:19 PM ET

TKShreve's avatar

Franzen’s the same target that Shanahan once was.  he’s Franza-han

Posted by DAN M on

My roommate had a pretty clever new nickname for the Mule last night. We were talking about how he can be two different players and he called him:

SchizoFranzen

I lol’d

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 05/03/13 at 12:30 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

when a goal-scorer goes on a seven-game, a six-game, and two four-game goalless streaks over the course of 41 games played, you can’t blame people for getting frustrated.

But this also means he sometimes rolls on a 10G/10GP pace, which for some reason (I don’t believe much in “clutch”, but yeah) happens mostly on April/May. So I get the frustration, but I do see the upside.

(and no, I won’t mention the comparables again, you’re all probably tired of that)

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 05/03/13 at 12:34 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I stopped reading when someone mentions Z coasts when the game doesn’t seem “on the line”.

You, sir, are an idiot.

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 05/03/13 at 12:46 PM ET

I admit was over-hasty in saying that, it wasn’t a fair comparison.

To his credit Z is statistically impeccable.  But, show me where the Zetterberg of games 43-48 was during games 1-42.  In the last two weeks he’s shown an entirely different level of competitiveness on the puck and on the forecheck.  It was contagious and the whole team caught fire.  It’d be nice to see that next level before the team is facing elimination.  No?

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/03/13 at 12:36 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

So really, unless someone has a competent argument about how Franzen is a bad deal (pro tip: there isn’t one beyond “But I want him to score 40 a year even though there’s no evidence he can or should and it would be a huge outlier”), can we just GIVE UP ON THE FRANZEN HATE ALREADY?!

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 12:15 PM ET

You ignored the elephant in the room: All of the guys you mentioned are younger than Franzen and none of them are signed until they’re 40. That’s the difference.

You do make a lot of good points, though. My opinion on this deal may be swayed yet. I’m coming around.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 05/03/13 at 12:39 PM ET

Avatar

So I get the frustration, but I do see the upside.

The upside is the reason for the frustration.  If it were simply a case of him being overpaid then the frustration would be solely on the management (see: 2013-2014 season if the Wings pay Filppula to a $5M per year contract), but the fact that we can see why the Wings gave him a “lifetime” contract makes it tht much more difficult to swallow when he doesn’t appear to be giving it his all.

But, show me where the Zetterberg of games 43-48 was during games 1-42.

He certainly wasn’t coasting.

Posted by Garth on 05/03/13 at 12:49 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/03/13 at 01:36 PM ET

I understand, and likewise I was a bit…over the line I suppose. That said, didn’t Z miss two games at the beginning of April? Maybe he came back a bit too soon seeing that games were on the line and played like crap?

It’s all irrelevant now…but even when things don’t go Z’s way offensively, I’m not sure I see him coasting too often…(of course…we could bring up two seasons ago…that was…weird…)

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 05/03/13 at 12:51 PM ET

Avatar

unless someone has a competent argument

Just because you disagree (or, if one wanted to, just because you’re blind to his inconsistency) doesn’t mean those who are frustrated with him are wrong.

Posted by Garth on 05/03/13 at 12:59 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by mrfluffy from Long Beach on 05/03/13 at 01:51 PM ET

It’s all good brother… and thank goodness it’s irrelevant now!

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 05/03/13 at 01:02 PM ET

Primis's avatar

To Garth and others here arguing the perception of “coasting” -

How do you decide if someone is “coasting”?  What the hard criteria?

For Franzen, the perception of “coasting” seems with some of you to have a direct correlation w/ production.  If he’s not scoring goals, quite frankly he gets accused of coasting and that’s that.  The correlation is pretty direct.  Even is he puts on 5 or 6 shots a game, he’s not “working enough” (which is ironic then considering Zetterberg’s shot total—higher, shooting percentage—lower, and goalscoring production—lower).

When Z isn’t scoring goals you guys often say “But he’s doing this, this, and this…”.  Well a lot of the time when Franzen isn’t scoring he’s still in front of the net taking a beating, and dealing with slashes and cross-checks nobody else deals with.  Why is Z being graded on a different curve than Franzen?  Is Franzen’s net-front work somehow less-important (having had Homer we should all know better than that by now)?  Z’s hit 40 goals before, Franzen never much over 30.  Why if Franzen scores more goals than Z does Z get a free pass, but Franzen is “under-producing” in the eyes of some?  What lack of “effort” is there?

Franzen is expected to stand in front of the net and get beat on, which Z isn’t.  Despite this, Z has constant “back problems”... but Franzen isn’t allowed to ever get banged up or lose a step for a night.  I’m not saying Z is soft (he isn’t).  I *am* saying that Franzen takes abuse like nobody else on the team (now that Homer’s gone anyways).  I’ve seen him take a pounding plenty of nights when he didn’t score, so it’s not from a lack of willingness necessarily on his part.  I’m also not saying he’s on, all-in 100% of the time, but nobody else is either.

I want you guys to understand, I’m not the World’s Biggest Mule Fan.  I’m not a Zetterberg Hater.  By for god’s sake, there seems to absolute hypocrisy sometimes when it comes to evaluating and grading the two, a playing field that isn’t level at all and I think Franzen gets sh*t on for no real reason.

Last season I was not a Mule fan at all really at the start, and in the past year or so I’ve come around to realizing what he is, what he deals with, and that as far as bang-for-buck there are 29 other teams that would GLADLY take him and his contract that some of you think is “too long a term”.  Other teams out there are paying 150% - 200% his contract for the same returns, forget the length (BTW Z is signed for a year longer than Franzen even… but again nobody has a problem with that one?).

He’s not Yzerman.  He’s not Fedorov.  He’s not Datsyuk or Z.  He’s a big-ish forward with a good shot that can also play center & win faceoffs, has been asked to replace a role (Homer) that nobody else in the game had ever really done before, at a time when almost nothing is a penalty again so forwards get abused anyways.

He’s Johan freaking Franzen.  Appreciate him.  Without him we’d be f**ked.

Posted by Primis on 05/03/13 at 02:36 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.