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Filppula gives Preds more to think about

Wings forward scored team-high four goals vs. Nashville

Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 8:02 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Filppula gives Preds more to think about
Valtteri Filppula led the Red Wings with four goals this season against the Predators. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It used to be that when Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne prepared for the Red Wings, Public Enemy No. 1 was Tomas Holmstrom, the Swedish Demolition Man who has made a career out of pester opposing netminders.

“Obviously, Holmstrom has had a great, great career and that's his key thing, what he does,” said Rinne, who led the NHL with 43 wins this season. “You can't get rattled, can't get frustrated, whatever happens in front of the net my job is to focus on the puck and try to make the saves.

“You still have to keep that in the back of your mind when he's on the ice. You pretty much know he's going to park right in front of you. You're going to see that 96 all night long.”

But this season, Rinne had a new adversary in Wings forward Valtteri Filppula, a fellow countryman, who had a great six-game stretch against the Predators this season.

“Yes, he did, and I was mad about that,” said Rinne, about surrendered four of Filppula’s career-high 23 goals this season.

“I feel like he's shooting the puck way more, he's going to the net, going in those dirty areas, he's not afraid to get hit or take a hit,” Rinne said. “That's how you score. I don't know how you score goals, but I guess that's how you score goals.”

Beginning in training camp, the coaches challenged Filppula to score more. It started by moving him from center to the wing and putting him on a forward line with center Henrik Zetterberg and forward Jiri Hudler. And it just may have been the biggest move of the season, taking the 28-year-old Finnish-born star from a third line center to a top six forward.

Part of his transformation is that Filppula shot more pucks at the net this season, actually 25.2 percent more from last season. Wings coach Mike Babcock would now like to see Filppula build on his remarkable season and continue to be a problem for Rinne by being more active in front of the net in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

“That's the chat we had at the morning skate, 'Fil, you had an unbelievable year, if you're going to be unbelievable in the playoffs you got to be on the inside,” Babcock said. “He's a dominant skater, he's strong as an ox, he can work the D. He's got to get on the inside.”

The two Fins have never played together back home, though they were opponents in the Finnish junior league. But besides to the goals he gave up, Rinne was very complimentary when talking about Filppula following Wednesday’s morning skate at Bridgestone Arena.

“Really nice guy,” Rinne said. “On the ice he looks a little bit like (Pavel) Datsyuk, he's so smooth with the puck, great skater, strong on the puck, protects the puck really well. He always seems to find his linemates, and this year he's also been scoring a lot more. That's a dangerous combination when you can dish the puck and also score some goals. That line has been going really well.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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