At this point, you can no longer call Johan ‘The Mule’ Franzen a dark horse. After all, the Red Wings left winger is coming off of a season in which he tallied 59 points in 71 contests. He was also a playoff stud just one year ago.
All the same, with six points in four games, he’s at it again: another performance that tops a point per game. This playoff and last, the 29-year-old has 24 points in 20 contests for a 1.20 points-per-game average. In the 2008-09 regular season season, that average was 0.83.
So what gives? Sure, he’s got the 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame that’s built for the rigors of playoff hockey. He also has a lot of playoff experience, playing for the Red Wings and all. But those tools are at his disposal during the regular season, so that can’t be it.
I chalk it up to a sluggish start. Franzen clearly comes out of the gate slowly and as the season wears on he shakes off the cobwebs and starts to roll. Look at the following data:
October – December: 30 games, eight points, 0.27 PPG
January – February: 26 games, 10 points, 0.38 PPG
March – June: 32 games, 38 points, 1.19 PPG
October – December: 31 games, 26 points, 0.84 PPG
January – February: 21 games, 13 points, 0.62 PPG
March – present: 23 games, 26 points, 1.13 PPG
The pattern is clear: he took a small dip in January and February of this year, but let’s attribute that to the hand and hip injuries he was playing through.
You can capitalize on this knowledge in your league. Quite simply, if you own him right now you can trade him in the summer for a high price and then attempt to reacquire him in November. If you don’t own him, hold off until 20 games into next campaign.
The Mule will be a Red Wing for the next 11 years. That’s going to work out to a ton of playoff points…
The biggest surprise producer of the post-season so far is Carolina’s Chad LaRose. He’s coming off career highs of 19 goals and 31 points and is carrying that through April with five points in six playoff contests. John Druce anyone?
Farm Report: Another Red Wing is tearing it up in the Calder Cup playoffs. Ville Leino leads the post-season scoring parade with 13 points in just six games. If Detroit doesn’t re-sign Marian Hossa and/or Mikael Samuelsson, Leino will be an NHLer next season with the ability to make a 45- to 50-point splash.
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