The traditional method of ranking individual player performance is usually some sort of “report card” or “A+” grading system. Not here. You see, we like to keep things simple at TPL. You either made the grade or you didn’t. No grey area. Black and white. This is “Pass/Fail.”
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Where do you even start with this guy? His puckhandling is a class above everyone else in the league, and his creativity makes everyone around him better. Despite missing 26 regular season contests, he still finished the the top 100 in the league in goals, assists, points, plus/minus, power play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals and shooting percentage. He’s nominated for the Selke award (again) as one of the top defensive forwards in the game, and his ability to take the puck away from guys is still top-notch. He may not win that Selke this year, but there’s no doubt that he deserves to be a nominee. Despite a nagging wrist injury, he was the clear frontrunner for Conn Smythe honors on the Wings during the postseason, scoring clutch goals and forcing defenses to cheat up on him, opening up opportunities for his teammates. Even with the Wings out of the playoffs, Datsyuk is still in the top 10 in the league in postseason assists and plus/minus. He showed an increased physical side this year, never shying away from contact and throwing his weight around on the forecheck. All in all, a complete player from top to bottom.
The injury. That’s it. The guy is a wizard on the ice, and clearly one of the elite players in the league. It was a shame he had to miss so many games due to injury, but that was his only limiting factor this season. Unfortunately for the Wings, the damage done by not having Datsyuk on the ice was pretty noticeable. As J.J. noted over at WIIM, the Wings GAA jumped from 2.75 up to 3.23 when Datsyuk was shelved during the regular season. He also looked a little sluggish and tentative in his return to the ice, but that’s to be expected. Some will argue that he still gets a bit too fancy sometimes, dropping passes where he should just carry the zone, but that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point. His presence on the faceoff dot was also sorely missed during the playoffs while he was recovering from that bum wrist.
Remember allllllllllllll the way back to the beginning of the season when Datsyuk dropped the mitts with Corey Perry? Yea, still one of my favorite memories of the entire season.
Disch: Single most dominant player I saw on the ice all year. Just off the charts. I started to believe this year. Wasn’t genuinely in that camp before….not like the rest of the believers. Wish he would keep the playoff beard.
Petrella: This one isn’t even fair. He’s so good, it’s ridiculous. I’ve always tried to avoid putting him in that top flight of players because I thought that maybe I was biased, as a fan of the Wings. But, I’m tired of keeping him off that list. He’s LITERALLY one of the best players on earth, and his display in the playoffs was absolutely filthy. A full year of THAT, and we have the number one guy on the planet.
Hollis: An incredible talent who seems to get better and better every single year. Just a lights-out player who gets you out of your seat every time he touches the puck. A healthy Datsyuk might just be the best player in the league.
Final TPL Grade
Up Next: Brian Rafalski