Daniel Cleary: No Longer a Secret in a Deep Red Wings Team
If someone that was not a Red Wings fan was asked to take a guess at who led the Red Wings in goals, chances are that he or she would not choose Danny Cleary. Popular choices would be Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Franzen (who I suppose would technically be right). But Danny Cleary is currently tied for the lead in goals with Johan Franzen. And it won't be surprising to see him take the lead back considering he has led the team in goals through most of the season.
Every season it seems like every team has at least one player that comes from being under the radar to suddenly turning heads. You could probably go through each team and name a guy. For the Red Wings, Danny Cleary is that guy.
I could quote myself on saying constantly in posts that Cleary is a scoring machine, that he's on an unbelievable run, that he's so underrated. But honestly, it's impossible to say those things anymore because the jury is out on Danny Cleary, and people are saying great things. The most stressed thing is that he is on the THIRD line and still having this tremendous amount of success.
Cleary is not a flashy goal scorer that is going to turn heads that way. He is a hard-working two-way player. You're probably not going to see him on many top goals of the week countdowns, but his production has meant a lot to the Wings.
Last season, Cleary scored just 15 goals. He currently has 13, and his NHL high is 20. He is going to shatter that career high this season without a doubt. Cleary is on pace to score 38 goals. As the season moves on, that number will most likely shrink some, but it would not be surprising to see him get at least 30 goals.
It is certainly true that once you start scoring, the puck will follow you around the ice. Cleary has seen that happen to him all season. He is always in great position to score. He's a very opportunistic player. And despite not being flashy, you cannot deny his goal scoring abilities. To be on the third line and leading his team in goals says a lot about Danny Cleary.
One can expect to hear the name "Cleary" more and more as the season moves along. If he keeps scoring, the secret will get out more than it already has. When teams are preparing to play the Wings, keeping guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg covered will not be enough. Cleary will make teams pay if they take his talent lightly.
Players hit their prime at all different ages depending on when they break into the league. At 31 years old and with NHL experience going all the way back to the 96-97 season with the Blackhawks, Danny Cleary has just now hit his prime and people will continue to bring up his name.
Red Wings Notes: The Red Wings defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 last night thanks to goals from Holmstrom, Cleary, Zetterberg, and Datsyuk. Chris Osgood recorded his 399th win. The win over the Devils was the second win in a row for the Red Wings (they defeated the Canadiens 4-2 on Friday) after dropping two games this past week to the Sharks and Predators.