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Filppula's meeting the challenge

Veteran forward is shooting more, scoring more

Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 11:29 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Filppula\'s meeting the challenge
DETROIT – Whatever the coaches did or said to challenge Valtteri Filppula this season, it certainly looks like it’s worked.

Filppula is on three-game scoring streak after his three-point performance Saturday helped pace the Red Wings to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena.

“I said to Kenny Holland that this is as good of a stretch as he’s had since he’s been here,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock, referring to Filppula’s season. “The good thing for us is that we’ve challenged Fil a lot here. We think Fil can score, and we think Fil can be a dominant player, and we’ve challenged him lots with that and it was great to see him step-up.”

Filppula’s two goals and an assist was his fifth multi-point game of the season, which is two shy of what he had all last season in his role as a center. He has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last six home games. But since moving to a winger position, Filppula has accepted the new role and met the challenge, which was to shoot more and pass less.

“I’m trying to go to the net a little more and trying to shoot the puck a little more,” said Filppula, who has 19 points with a plus-8 rating. “I think that’s the main two things that I’ve tried to focus on. A lot of goals are scored by getting rebounds and stuff, and I’m just trying to go to the net and finding pucks.”

Filppula gave the Wings 1-0 lead with a power-play tally at 13:23 of the first period. His back-hander was just his 10th career power-play goal and the first of the season.

“He's skating very well. He can make good plays. He's fun to play with,” said center Henrik Zetterberg, who added a goal and an assist. “He's easy to play with. It's nice he's getting rewarded with some nice goals.”

Filppula added a goal in the second period that increased the Wings’ lead to 3-0 when he tipped Jakub Kindl’s point blast past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. Filppula was the second Wing to tip the shot. Jiri Hudler tipped it first, getting his stick on it in the mid-slot.

“I couldn’t even see the puck, I just know that it hit my stick,” said Filppula of his seventh goal of the season.

Part of Filppula’s resurgence this season is that he’s made a quick adjustment to the position with his natural speed.

“Yeah, it’s a little different and it always takes a little time to get used to, definitely,” he said. “Playing in your own end it’s a lot different, that’s pretty much the only thing, other than that it hasn’t changed too much with how we play. It’s not a big difference, but it takes time to get used to being a winger and I have to play a little closer to the boards and that’s something that I’ve been practicing as well.”

Playing on a forward line with Zetterberg and logging some time on the power play certainly has helped Filppula’s development too.

“It’s easy to play with Hank, he’s a great player,” Filppula said. “He’s great with the puck, he’s great without the puck, and when he has the puck you just try to get open and he’s going to give it to you. And the same when I have the puck he’s working hard to try to get available, so he makes it easy to get him the puck. I’m really enjoying playing with him.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59