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Tuesday Tire Pump: Valtteri Filppula

Detroit Red WIngs v Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 4: Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with 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)

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Every Tuesday at PHT, we’ll pump a player’s tire. Because every player likes it when nice things are said about them.

This week’s tire pumpee: Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings

The 27-year-old Finn has been a key contributor in Detroit’s recent run of success. In his last eight games – seven of them Wings victories – Filppula’s racked up seven goals and four assists. He could still shoot the puck more, but with 25 points in 27 games and a plus-13 rating, it’s hard for anyone to complain.

Taken 95th overall in 2002, Filppula’s one of many savvy Detroit draft picks in the lineup. His first few seasons in the NHL showed a lot of promise; however, his production fell off last season when he tallied just 39 points in 71 games.

Wings coach Mike Babcock knew his team needed more out of Filppula.

“We’ve challenged Fil a lot here,” Babcock told Fox Sports Detroit late last month. “We think Fil can score, and we think Fil can be a dominant player.”

Nicklas Lidstrom was similarly complimentary of his teammate.

“He’s playing at the top of his game right now, whether it’s back-checking or handling the puck,” Lidstrom said. “How he plays with the puck, too. He’s so strong on the puck, and he can make it look so easy out there, so it’s fun watching him out there.”

Valtteri Filppula, everyone.