Every Tuesday at PHT, we’ll pump a player’s tire. Because every player likes it when nice things are said about them.
This week’s tire pumpee: Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings
The 27-year-old Finn has been a key contributor in Detroit’s recent run of success. In his last eight games – seven of them Wings victories – Filppula’s racked up seven goals and four assists. He could still shoot the puck more, but with 25 points in 27 games and a plus-13 rating, it’s hard for anyone to complain.
Taken 95th overall in 2002, Filppula’s one of many savvy Detroit draft picks in the lineup. His first few seasons in the NHL showed a lot of promise; however, his production fell off last season when he tallied just 39 points in 71 games.
Wings coach Mike Babcock knew his team needed more out of Filppula.
Nicklas Lidstrom was similarly complimentary of his teammate.
“He’s playing at the top of his game right now, whether it’s back-checking or handling the puck,” Lidstrom said. “How he plays with the puck, too. He’s so strong on the puck, and he can make it look so easy out there, so it’s fun watching him out there.”
Valtteri Filppula, everyone.
Torts not worried after Jackets get blown out twice — ‘Today was going to be a mess’
John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.
The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.
“Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”
Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).
There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.
Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.
Sens to move AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Belleville
The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history.
The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.
Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.
Seidenberg, without a contract, playing a key role for Team Europe
Dennis Seidenberg has been a key player for Team Europe at the World Cup, and he doesn’t even have an NHL contract.
Seidenberg, 35, logged 23:30 in Europe’s 3-2 overtime upset of Sweden on Sunday. Only Roman Josi (29:00) played more for the winning side. Seidenberg even played more than his old Boston teammate, Zdeno Chara (22:26).
“I’ve played quite a bit,” Seidenberg said earlier in the tournament, per the Associated Press. “People should know what I can do and can’t do by now, but nonetheless this is an important tournament for me.”
A Stanley Cup champion in 2011, Seidenberg became an unrestricted free agent when he was bought out by the Bruins over the summer. At first, the decision shocked him, but the shock eventually passed. So far, he’s been holding out for a guaranteed contract, as opposed to a tryout.
The Ottawa Senators are reportedly a potential landing spot.
Seidenberg may not be a full-time, top-four defenseman anymore, but he should still be able to hold down a bottom-pairing role, with the ability to log top-four minutes if there’s an injury.
He’ll get another good look from the scouts on Tuesday when Team Europe opens its best-of-three series with the heavy favorites from Canada. He’s not the only UFA blue-liner on his team, as 34-year-old Christian Ehrhoff is also playing a role, albeit a smaller one.