My pick for Wings best performance by a rookie in the playoffs:
(Photo: Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
Now some might disagree with this pick, saying Val Filppula deserves it. And I'll admit, Val had one hell of a playoffs, especially for a rookie. He showed tremendous speed at times and scored some big goals in the Calgary series. Val often showed us why Mike Babcock praised him so highly, why despite promises he'd be kept in GR another year he was a regular on the team by early in the season. And while Fil's exploits (such as burning Scott Niedermayer... twice) will resonate in the memories of Wings fans for a while now, few can recall anything about young Kyle Quincey's performance. And that's why I picked him.
He didn't completely fuck up.
At an incredibly important juncture in the playoffs, Brett Lebda, and then Mathieu Schneider, went down, and Quince, with only a few games in the pros to his credit, jumped in and absolutely did not embarass himself. Babcock protected the kid, keeping him consistently under 10 mins, but what time he got he managed to eat with safe, sound defensive play. I was rooting the entire playoffs for him to get a point.
If Val hadn't turned in the performance he did, few would notice. Those who did would likely write it off as a soon to be very good player getting his feet wet in the playoffs and struggling the first time around. The Wings know well enough that this kind of thing happens. But if Quince hadn't acquitted himself as well as he did? He very well may have caused the Wings to give up some critical goals, and forced Mike Babcock to overwork his other five D. But the kid did alright, and he sure as hell wasn't the reason the Wings lost.
Quincey's perfomance, much like that of Andreas Lilja, ensures him (or rather, should ensure him) a roster spot next year. Yesterday I dicussed trading Lilja as a possible route for easing the Wings logjam and ensuring Quincey gets his IT. However if Quincey is not in the Top 6, or playing at least 50% of the games, he should be in GR continuing his development. Derek Meech can't be sent down without clearing waivers, so Meech is actually more likely to make the squad than Quincey. But then again, Quince may pull a Filppula, and just force Babcock to play him anyway.