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By the Numbers: Justin Abdelkader

Veteran leader endures a down season, including injury and a long goalless drought

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

By the Numbers will highlight the Red Wings' on-ice accomplishments in the 2018-19 season. Each week during the offseason, By the Numbers will profile a different player on the team, focusing on his statistical highs. This week we focus on left wing Justin Abdelkader.

Sometimes it's just better and therapeutic to flush away an unpleasant situation and start with a clean slate.

Not so much to forget the past, but to refocus by taking control of the things that you can control to silence your critics and obliterate the negative vibes.

And based on his 2018-19 season, you couldn't blame Red Wings alternate captain Justin Abdelkader if he puts last year in the rear view mirror as he speeds towards this upcoming season of redemption.

Abdelkader has always been the Red Wings' chameleon.

He's a versatile player who can play on all four lines, kill penalties, serve as a net-front presence on the power play and defend himself and his teammates by dropping the gloves.

His role can change from shift to shift during a game, but the former Michigan State standout has shown he's capable and a quick study to adapt to any task the Wings throw his way.

But last season, he never was able to get out of the starting gate and find his groove.

The Muskegon native didn't score his first goal until Detroit's 12th game of the year, then scored three goals in the next five games, but after that mini goal-scoring tear, he suffered droughts of 13 and 40 games between goals.

Through it all, Abdelkader remained upfront about his troubles, never shying away from the press or being reluctant to offer his time to meet and greet fans during community functions.

However, when your numbers are trending downward and you're in the third year of a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Abdelkader became the ire of many in the team's rabid fanbase.

When it appeared he might have an opportunity to finish the season on a positive note and carry an encouraging feeling into the offseason, Abdelkader suffered a hairline fracture in his foot after blocking a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 14 at Little Caesars Arena.

Though the Red Wings lost the game, 5-4, Abdelkader scored the Wings' third goal of the game, his first tally in 40 games, and was engaged all over the ice.

Yet, despite getting a jolt of confidence, the fracture ended his season and any potential late-season scoring surge.

This offseason, speculation has run rampant that Abdelkader's physical style of play has caught up with the 12-year veteran. The rumor mill has been churning out the possibility that the Wings could buy out Abdelkader's contract.

On July 1 during a conference call with reporters to discuss Detroit's free-agent signings of center Valtteri Filppula, defenseman Patrik Nemeth and goalie Calvin Pickard, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was asked if the Wings would be buying out any contracts this summer.

Yzerman was resolute, saying he doesn't foresee the Wings buying out any players' contracts, which should give Abdelkader a bit of relief as he's out to prove at 32, he still has a leg up on Father Time.

71 - Games Abdelkader played last season, which ranked seventh on the team. It was the second time in his Wings career he's played 71 games in a season. In 2014-15, he also played 71 contests, notching 23 goals among 44 points. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall led the Wings in games played with 79.

6 - His six goals were the second-lowest of his career. Abdelkader scored three goals during the 2009-10 season when he appeared in 50 games for the Red Wings.

13 - Abdelkader's 13 assists were the second-lowest of his career. In 74 games back in 2010-11, he registered 12 assists along with seven goals for 19 total points.

19 - For the second time in his Wings career, Abdelkader hit the 19-point mark, matching his total from the 2010-11 season. Excluding his first four games with the Red Wings, which spanned over two seasons from 2007-08 through 2008-09, his 19 points is the second-lowest point total of his career. His lowest point total is six (3-3-6), reached in the 50 games he played in 2009-10, his official rookie season.

38 - Along with Andreas Athanasiou, his 38 penalty minutes were fourth-highest on the team. Dylan Larkin was the Wings' leader in penalty minutes with 75.

-14 - Abdelkader's minus-14 was the second-highest for the Red Wings. Rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski's minus-20 was the highest on the club.

15:24 - Among Detroit's forward corps, Abdelkader's 15:24 ice-time average ranked seventh. Larkin led the Wings' forwards in ice time, averaging 21:50 per game. Defenseman Danny DeKeyser was the Red Wings' ice time leader, clocking in at 21:58 per game.

11 - After blocking a shot versus Tampa Bay on March 14, resulting in a hairline fracture of his foot, Abdelkader missed the final 11 games of the season.

185 - Throughout his career, the 6-foot-2, 214-pound left wing has always brought physicality to his game. Abdelkader's 185 hits were the second-highest on the Wings. Luke Glendening's 198 hits was tops on the Red Wings last season.

650 - On Dec. 10 versus the Los Angeles Kings, Abdelkader played his 650th NHL game. In Detroit's 3-1 victory, he was held scoreless, was even and registered one shot in 16:21 of ice time. In 690 games, all, with Detroit, Abdelkader has 106 goals and 143 assists for 249 points. He's minus-42, has been assessed 583 penalty minutes and has an average ice time of 15:08 per game.

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