Detroit Red Wings: A Surprise Choice for Team MVP

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIDecember 5, 2011

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 4:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings shoots the puck during a NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on December 2, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Red Wings have had a streak-filled season. After starting the season with five wins, they went into a nosedive by losing six games.  They have climbed back up the standings with the help of a seven-game win streak and are now battling for the division and conference lead.

With the first quarter of the season in the books, it is time to pick the first quarter MVP.  With a team this good there are plenty of candidates.

Johan Franzen: Franzen is leading the team in goals and points.  He has been a consistent scoring force all season.  The team seems to follow him as they have won all but two of the games in which he has registered a point.

Pavel Datsyuk:  Datsyuk had a very slow start to his season.  After 16 games he only had two goals and eight assists.  Over the last nine games though he has played up to his normally high standards with six goals and eight assists.  The team is 7-2 since his resurgence.

Jimmy Howard:  Howard has been amazing so far this season.  He is in the top two in the league in goals against, shutouts and wins.  He boasts a 15-5-1 record so far.

While Franzen and Datsyuk are strong candidates, Howard has been more important to the team and would be the choice if not for Valtteri Filppula.

Filppula is having a career year.  At the rate he is going he should blow by his previous best goal mark of 19 as he already has eight.  He has also been an assist machine, already tallying 13.

Why is he the MVP choice?  The season started with normal team leaders Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in slumps.  While Franzen and Howard have maintained their leadership positions on the team and have even improved, it was Filppula who stepped up his game to fill the void.

When the team was in their six-game skid, it was Filppula’s four-game point streak that helped lift the team out as he had six points over those four games.  On top of his point production he has also become a solid two-way player. 

For all those reasons, Filppula is the first-quarter MVP for the Detroit Red Wings.