In a warm, comforting workshop in the snow-capped North Pole, a big jolly man in a red suit sips on hot chocolate, hunched over his work station, finalizing his naughty and nice list for the Holiday Season.
It’s a nice image, isn’t it? In reality, it’s a cold apartment in damp downtown Toronto, and I’m a scrawny crabby man in a red sweater sipping on neat whisky. The one thing Santa and I do have in common, though, is that we’re working on our naughty and nice lists, only mine is for the Detroit Red Wings.
So, who on this team deserves all the presents and who is going to get coal? It was hard narrowing it down, but here are my selections:
THE NAUGHTY LIST
Mantha has a history of hot and cold play and that continues this season. With 9 goals on the season so far, he is far from the 30-goal scorer we all expected him to be this year. He’s had two stretches of four games where he hasn’t received a point and only three multi-point games.
But that’s not the main reason that he’s found himself on the naughty end of my list. Mantha is currently sitting 4-6 weeks with a hand injury that he received during a fight. First of all, it’s not nice to hit other people, but when you’re meant to be the team’s power-forward, you need to be on the ice producing, not in the press box recovering!
Stop fighting, Mo, and maybe next year you’ll find yourself on my Nice list!
Daley started the season on the IR and I have a sneaky feeling that he may still be recovering. With only two goals, Daley has the least amount among active Red Wings defensemen. His puck carrying has improved as of late, but overall his decision-making in his own zone has been really bad.
For all of the giveaways, icings, missed passes, and lazy plays, Trevor Daley finds himself on the Naughty list.
It’s incredibly hard not to love Bertuzzi. He’s the team pest. He’s always chirping, slashing, pushing and shoving to get under the opposing team’s skin. And most of the time it works. Bertuzzi also has 19 points in 34 games, meaning that he can drive some offense too.
But Bertuzzi has 28 penalty minutes. He’s logged two fights (according to hockeyfights.com), but also received a two game suspension for an incident where he gave Matt Calvert of the Colorado Avalanche a couple of shots to the face from the bench.
For this incident and the countless times where he walked the line between pest and goon, Bertuzzi is exactly where we want to see him: on the Naughty list.
Other notable Red Wings who have found themselves on the Naughty List:
- Thomas Vanek
- Justin Abdelkader
- Jonathan Bernier
THE NICE LIST
It was tough seeing Howie go down with an injury because he’s been the beating heart of this team all season. His .922 save percentage has led the team to more wins than they deserve. He faced 40 shots or more in four games and 35 shots or more in nine games. Simply put: this team leaves him out to dry defensively and he keeps them in it.
Jimmy Howard is on the nicest of the nice list and he deserves all the presents this Holiday season.
Just when fans seem to have lost all hope for the team’s defense, Dennis Cholowski shows up as a shining beacon. Most expected him to start the year in Grand Rapids, but Cholowski’s strong training camp earned him an opening night roster spot. Since then, he’s logged six goals and 14 points in 34 games. That’s only two points back from Mike Green who leads all team defensemen.
What’s most impressive about this performance is that Cholowski is doing it despite the unfavourable pairings he often finds himself to be apart of. It’s hard to contribute offensively when you’re playing with Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, or Trevor Daley.
Welcome to the Nice list, Dennis!
Was there ever any doubt about this one? As the number one center, Larkin leads the team in goals, with 15, and points, with 34. That ranks him at 22nd amongst league centers. Larkin is already only one goal behind his total from last season and is on pace to have the highest scoring season of his career.
After losing Henrik Zetterberg, the team needed Larkin to take a big step forward and he appears to have done so. He plays with heart, grit, and energy, constantly leading by example. He is hands down the future captain of this team and he deserved his own holiday jingle.
— WingsNation (@thewingsnation) December 21, 2018
That’s why he’s on the Nice list.
Other notable Red Wings who have found themselves on the Nice List:
- Gustav Nyquist
- Andreas Athanasiou
- Mike Green