Asked about his spectacular start to the season, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek responded in his usual understated manner.
“Of course I’m happy,” Hronek said. “We’re winning. That’s the biggest thing.
“I think we were playing better hockey so far. We’re playing good.”
So is Hronek – very good, in fact. He’s putting himself in the same conversation with Red Wings defensive legends.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 24, 2022
For his part, Hronek would much prefer to go about his business in the shadows. He neither seeks out, or enjoys the glare of the spotlight.
However, if he continues to do things not seen in these parts since seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired, attention will continue to seek him out.
With a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory, Hronek ran his tally to five goals over Detroit’s last five games. Hronek became the first Detroit defenseman with five goals in a five-game span since Lidstrom from Dec. 15-23, 2010. He’s riding a five-game point streak (5-2-7).
Only five NHL defensemen have more goals than Hronek this season. Just 10 rearguards have accumulated more points. With 16 points in 18 games, Hronek is currently on a 73-point pace.
Others Willing To Speak For Hronek
If Hronek chooses to deflect credit away from his direction, several of his Detroit teammates are more than willing to heap effusive praise upon their teammate.
“I think he’s been awesome all season,” defense partner Olli Maatta said. “Happy to see he’s getting pucks going in for him, too. I know it means a lot but at the same time he’s doing a lot of great things off the puck, too.
“I think those things get kind of unnoticed and I think the way he’s playing, he’s getting rewarded. It’s awesome to see.”
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) November 24, 2022
Hronek’s defensive acumen was on display during Wednesday’s win. The Red Wings were left to defend a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation for 1:37. Making matters worse, top defensive pairing Moritz Seider and Ben Chiarot were the Detroit players serving time in the sin bin.
“I think that’s a credit to Olli, that’s a credit to Hronek, where their game is at,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “We have our top two D out, our two defensive D. They would’ve eaten up most of that 3v5.”
Lalonde’s Request? Dial Down the Risk
At the outset of the season, Lalonde was asking of Hronek that he not cheat for offense. He sought from him to avoid trading risk in pursuit of potential reward.
Last season, while Hronek was fifth on the team with career-high 5-33-38 numbers, he was also posting the third-worst minus on the club at -29.
“Filip has that tendency to drift in his game a little bit,” Lalonde said during the preseason. “I think we’ll try to simplify, make his game a little bit more predictable and take out some of that risk.”
Maatta And Hronek Mesh As Pairing
The plan appears to be working. As well, Hronek and Maatta are teaming up to give the Red Wings a stellar and reliable second defensive pairing.
Even Hronek doesn’t mind talking about that.
“We were together from the start of camp and we built some chemistry,” Hronek said. “That helps for sure. We’re still working on it.
“We are talking a lot about things. I think that’s the biggest thing. And we are getting used to each other more and more.”
If Hronek continues at his current pace, people are going to want to talk about it a lot. So he might just have to get used to being asked about it.