First of all, yes I am in fact alive. Big ups to JJ for providing some excellent work in my absence.
Second, this is going to be a bit of a multi-part series that we'll run throughout the remainder of the off-season. Probably about 2 posts like this per week as sort of a way for generating some conversation as well as seeing your confidence/lack of confidence in the Wings heading into the upcoming season.
Our first focus will be on Johan Franzen. Franzen has progressed with his scoring touch over the years and he was lined up for a big season in 2009-2010 before a knee injury sidelined him. "The Mule" registered 10 goals in his 27 games last season as well as an additional six playoff goals--including his big four goal performance against the Sharks in Game 4. Franzen has emerged as a big time scoring threat on the Red Wings but also hits cold streaks every now and then. Will 2010-2011 be the Year of the Mule?
Back in 2008-2009, Franzen really started to strut his stuff with 34 goals in 71 games (about a goal every other game) and 12 goals in the playoff run. His ability to come through in the clutch has been a big factor of his success and one of the things that makes him such a threat. In addition, he shows good instincts for where to be on the ice and is a patient puck carrier, which allows him to take the best shot possible. He'll have a bit of a challenge scoring 40 goals with the amount of talent surrounding him but he definitely has the skill set to do so.
Why it will happen: As mentioned before, Franzen has started to show his scoring touch in the past few years and his skills seemingly get better. He's developed a quick release paired with an accurate aim and for a big guy he's got really soft hands around the crease.
Why it won't happen: Injuries have been a problem for Franzen since he came into the league. He's a big guy but he also takes a lot of physical punishment and it could wear him down. Or, he could have a freak accident like last year. But let's not think like that, shall we?
My take: I'm going to side with "True" on this one. The Red Wings are heading into the 2010-2011 season with the likely pairing of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the top line with Tomas Holmstrom. On the second line, Franzen will likely be centered by Valtteri Filppula and have Todd Bertuzzi playing the wing opposite him. In my book though, you can throw out the notion of it being the "second line" and just call them lines 1a and 1b. I think people will be surprised by the amount of chemistry that a Franzen-Filppula-Bertuzzi will have. Filppula is an excellent set up man and Bertuzzi can muscle space open. Franzen's the top target offensively and I think there will be no problem "Feeding the Mule" throughout the season.
Your turn: weigh in on what you think of Franzen's chances of scoring 40 or more goals.