Pass/Fail: Justin Abdelkader

The traditional method of ranking individual player performance is usually some sort of “report card” or “A+” grading system. Not here. You see, we like to keep things simple at TPL. You either made the grade or you didn’t. No grey area. Black and white. This is “Pass/Fail.”

Statistically Speaking
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The Good
Abdelkader’s bread and butter is his physical game and ruthless forecheck, and he had it on exhibit for most of the regular season this year. For a guy playing in his first full NHL season, Abdelkader didn’t seem overwhelmed by the speed of the game, although that’s likely a direct result of his regular appearances in the lineup over the past two seasons. He finished the season with a team best +15 rating, and he also led the team in (surprise!) hits. He’s one of the only Wings regularly willing to drop the gloves, and his physical presence was an important component for the team this year.

The Bad
Let’s just get it out of the way now: Abdelkader took way too many dumb penalties in the San Jose series and it proved costly for the Wings. His stick control leaves plenty to be desired, and he got his stick blade up far too often, usually catching someone in the face and ending up in the box. His game lacked consistency, although many will point to the aforementioned fact that this was his first full NHL season as a reason for his erratic play. He’s a young guy and full of energy, but Abdelkader would do well to take a page out of Darren Helm’s book and slow himself down. Production wise, Abdelkader failed to hit 20 points. Some will say that was to be expected given his role, while others will say that he’s a better player and should have put up more points.

Extra Credit
Tough to find somewhere to add credit. Just hearing his name conjures up memories of the terrible San Jose penalties. That said, his big hits and rough-and-tumble play sure are fun to watch.

Grades
Disch: FAIL
Petrella: FAIL
Hollis: PASS

The Reasoning
Disch: Fail. And its fail because after this season I’m resetting my expectations for Gator. I had these lofty visions of him turning into a poor man’s Getzlaf. Right now I’d be ecstatic if he rounded out as a rich man’s late-career Maltby. Hurts to say that. I think the heart is there, but he did some dumb things this post-season that you hope a guy who’s been with the team more than a few months…more than one playoff run…doesn’t do.
Petrella: I love me some Gator, but if we’re weighing these guys against our expectations of them, poor Mr. Abdelkader fell just short. He was able to chip in some great points, but his ill-timed penalties and unfortunate off-sides and other transgressions put him the Fail pile for now.
Hollis: He only gets a pass from me quite simply because I’ve never expected him to score the points and be the offensive threat that quite a few folks perceive him to be. When he sticks to being a physical, fourth line presence, he’s great. But when he tries to do too much, it’s very apparent. I just don’t see him ever being a 20 goal scorer or 50 point guy, so within those parameters it’s hard to fail him. Those dumb penalties brought me close, but for the kind of player he is, I’ll give him the nod.

Final TPL Grade
FAIL

Up Next: Cory Emmerton

Past Reports:
6/9 :: Jiri Hudler (FAIL)
6/8 :: Todd Bertuzzi (PASS)
6/7 :: Brian Rafalski (PASS)
6/7 :: Pavel Datsyuk (PASS)
6/6 :: Brad Stuart (PASS)
6/4 :: Henrik Zetterberg (PASS)
5/27 :: Jakub Kindl (SPLIT)
5/26 :: Darren Helm (PASS)
5/24 :: Niklas Kronwall (PASS)
5/23 :: Valtteri Filppula (PASS)

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