Following up on Graham's midseason report cards on the forwards this morning, I've got the defensemen and the goalies. Just like him, we're going to grade on a curve, so Kent Huskins isn't going to be held to the same standard as Niklas Kronwall.
Let's take a look at how the defenders have done so far.
|2012 - Carlo Colaiacovo||0||0||0||0||0|
Detroit's last offseason signing, Colaiacovo joined the team with the weight of not being Ryan Suter on his shoulders and unfortunately, it seems they couldn't bear that strain. Colaiacovo was finishing only his second game with the team on January 21st when he took a hard hit against the boards and left the game. While he's rumored close to returning, he hasn't played since. Despite one of his two games being the team's worst performance of the year (the season opener), Colaiacovo played well in those two games.
|2012 - Jonathan Ericsson||2||8||10||5||16|
The big lug in the 2nd year of his three-year contract hasn't had to put up with many complaints about his cap hit this year, as he's taken on the team's top defensive responsibilities and has succeeded there. Two goals and eight assists in the 21 games he's played have him at 2nd on the team in scoring. He's getting the fewest offensive zone starts of anybody and is taking on tough competition while coming out slightly ahead in possession metrics.
|2012 - Kent Huskins||0||0||0||-3||4|
Detroit's emergency signing during the darkest days of the injury crisis, Huskins has served his role as a stopgap for the Wings. His possession metrics aren't good, but as the most stay-at-home of the defensive defensemen on the roster, the only person in less control of his corsi is the goaltender. The only real complaint about Huskins is the lack of an outlet pass, which is kind of like complaining about a passenger jet not having radar-jamming equipment.
|2012 - Jakub Kindl||2||4||6||10||14|
Kindl was at the heart of the "trade him for whatever you can get for him" talks for a good part of the early-going until he finally ran with the chance that Babcock gave him and became a roster regular. Jakub hasn't been a lineup scratch since the 21st of February and his six points put him third on the Defense for production. Not bad from a third-pairing guy. He hasn't done much to help the 2nd PP unit score, but he's definitely been part of what's made Detroit's depth players so effective against their competition.
|2012 - Niklas Kronwall||3||15||18||-2||26|
Kronwall went from brand new #1 defenseman to massively struggling to apparent Norris Contender in the stretch of 24 games. Through Friday's games, Kronwall sits 2nd in the league for scoring and has been slowly climbing out of a plus/minus hole which at one point was as bad as -9. He's still a relative overall minus on possession, but has played much better in his own zone over the last 10 games. Perhaps what's scariest to look at is that there's perhaps a correlation between minutes played for Kronwall and how much he struggles. Kronwall is an overall +4 in games where he's played fewer than 23 minutes. For a player who is supposed to be the team's #1 D-Man, that's not great at all.
|2012 - Brian Lashoff||1||3||4||-3||4|
Detroit's most-impressive defensive rookie isn't who you thought it would be at the beginning of the season. Lashoff has played better than expected in 20 games this season. He's struggled at times with adjusting to the NHL game, but overall, he's been a solid performer. Expectations were essentially nonexistent coming into the season, so anything better than sucking is a good thing for Lashoff, who has been used on all three pairs as the season goes. Lately, he's been basically invisible on the third pair, which is a good thing.
|2012 - Kyle Quincey||1||0||1||12||14|
The hardest-to-defend defensemen on the Wings, Quincey leads the team in plus/minus and is still fairly underperforming expectations for the season with just one point in 22 games. Possession-wise, Quincey's doing well as the 2nd-pairing guy. Mike from 3rdRoundDraftPick probably described Quincey best when he called him a barometer for the Wings. The more people hate Quincey, the worse the Wings are doing. When the Wings do well, the vitriol subsides. Quincey's been better in his own end, but one flukey goal and no assists is not going to cut it.
|2012 - Brendan Smith||0||1||1||6||4|
Smith has only played 13 games this season after missing time with a shoulder injury. When he's been on the ice, he's moved the puck well and generally made smart decisions both with and away from the puck. His propensity to get involved in the offensive zone has been mostly positive, as his skating has been able to bail him out of what might otherwise be odd-man rushes. For an offensive defenseman, Smith needs to put up more points, but he's not exactly failing with a +6 rating in his 13 games.
|2012 - Ian White||1||1||2||-2||2|
Perhaps only Niklas Kronwall has felt the sting of the post-Lidstrom criticism more than Ian White has. A consistent healthy scratch lately, White has been up and down for performance over the season. He's overall not doing well in a somewhat easier role than his linemates. When he's been good, he's been quite good, but he hasn't been good often enough. The pending UFA has been the center of trade rumors as being perhaps the best option to move when Colaiacovo comes back from injury.
|2012 - Jimmy Howard||21||1202||10||7||50||2.50||587||537||.915||2|
Howie started off struggling, but has really found his game lately and has played a large role in Detroit's recent success in preventing goals. He's in the hunt for wins among starters, but his numbers still fall short of the best performers in goal by a decent margin, as most of the guys with comparable win totals have done so in fewer games and with better save percentages. It would be nice if he could keep up the .950 save percentage he's put up in the last 5 games.
|2012 - Jonas Gustavsson||3||133||1||0||4||1.80||52||48||.923||0|
The Monster has only started one game this season thanks to a groin injury. His numbers are good, but the number of minutes he's played in have not been. It's not entirely fair, but a backup's entire job is to spell the starter, and Gustavsson hasn't done nearly enough of that.
|2012 - Petr Mrazek||2||119||1||1||4||2.02||51||47||.922||0|
Mrazek has one very good start and one not-as-good start and has put up numbers comparable to Gustavsson's. I'm excited that the kid seems to be the real deal and should be ready for full-time NHL action in the not-too-distant future. Personally, I'd have preferred that he not have played any games with the Wings so far, but I'm glad he's done well when he has.