The Malik Report
by Paul on 11/09/13 at 10:06 AM ET
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
It’s not really much of a surprise to Tampa Bay general manager Yzerman that Filppula is proving to be a perfect fit. While in the front office with the Red Wings, Yzerman watched Filppula emerge from the Detroit system as a versatile forward.
“We were looking for a responsible, two-way center that could play in all situations, and he has done that for us,” Yzerman said. “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.”
Filppula is not only called on to center the second line, but also he runs the second power-play unit, is one of the first penalty killers to jump over the boards, takes many important faceoffs and often faces the opposition’s top lines.
When it’s time for Tampa Bay to protect a lead late in the game, Filppula is often tapped by Cooper to tackle the assignment.
“He’s just a quiet, confident, calm person,” Cooper said. “He’s stabilized our forward group. He goes a little bit unnoticed in the sense that we have some other guys out there that get more points and they have a little bit bigger name in the game.
“But when you watch the game, he gets those non-hero minutes. He’s out there against the big lines playing big minutes at big times in big games.”
from Damien Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning (11-4-0), winner of three straight and six of seven, is first in the Atlantic Division. Detroit is third.
"A pretty cool setup," Filppula said.
As notable, though, is how seamlessly Filppula, 29, has slid into his role as Tampa Bay's No. 2 center after signing a five-year, $25 million free agent contract in the offseason.
His six goals are third on the team and just three fewer than he had last season for Detroit in an injury-filled, lockout-shortened season.
His 12 points are tied for third on the team. He has won 54.6 percent of his faceoffs. He anchors the second power-play unit, has dazzled with his passing and puck-possession skills, and has impressed with his commitment to defense.
Okay, so he doesn't shoot enough, but he makes the most of the shots he takes. His 35.3 shooting percentage (six goals on 17 shots) is a league best.
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