Bolts’ Filppula: ‘I couldn’t produce the points that I wanted’ last year

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Valtteri Filppula admits he didn’t perform as well as he’d hoped last season.

“You always want to do better in every aspect of the game,” Filppula told the Tampa Bay Lightning website. “Last year I couldn’t produce the points that I wanted to and I hope I can do better next year.

“That’s going to be a big focus.”

Filppula, 29, had a disappointing 2013 campaign, scoring just 17 points in 41 games (and six in 14 playoff appearances) — but reasons for the drop off in production were many.

He suffered a knee sprain while playing for SM-liiga’s Jokerit during the lockout, an injury that shelved him for nearly two months and lingered into the start of the NHL season.

Filppula then missed seven games with a shoulder injury (prior to the ailment, he had 10 points in 19 games) and, to top things off, suffered a high ankle sprain in Detroit’s Game 7 overtime elimination against Chicago.

It was a disappointing year, to say the least.

That’s a far cry from Filppula’s 2011-12 campaign, when he appeared in a career-high 81 games while notching a career-high 66 points, playing primarily on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler.

(Yet another possible reason for Filppula’s downswing in 2013 — Hudler left to sign in Calgary, and Zetterberg moved units. Filppula never really clicked with his linemates last season.)

That ’11-’12 breakout season was a big reason why clubs were lined up to secure his services this summer — Filppula agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with Tampa Bay after receiving interest from a number of clubs, most notably the St. Louis Blues.

Filppula said he’s ready to embrace a larger workload with the Bolts than he had with the Wings. In Tampa, he’ll likely replace ex-captain Vincent Lecavalier as the team’s second-line center.

“It’s always the goal to have a bigger role wherever you play,” he said.