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Young and Younger (at heart)

Chelios, rookie Abdelkader set to make their own playoff history

Wednesday, 04.9.2008 / 2:30 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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Young and Younger (at heart)
Wings' Chris Chelios will tie the NHL mark on Thursday for most games-played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
DETROIT – On the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs, two different Red Wings had completely separate views of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against Nashville, which is set to begin Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

One will get the chance to make his playoff debut, while the other will soon set a league record for most playoff-games played.

Justin Abdelkader is cutting class on Thursday, but wouldn’t miss the opportunity to play in his first-ever NHL playoff game. On the opposite end, veteran defenseman Chris Chelios will be extending his own Stanley Cup record when he skates in the playoffs for the 23rd year.

A week ago, Abdelkader was a junior on the Michigan State campus, studying for final exams in International Business. On Wednesday, he has asked about missing the rest of his junior year for a shot at playing playoff hockey.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Abdelkader, who signed a three-year deal with the Red Wings last Friday. “I’ve had some time in the hotel to think about everything. I don’t know if it’s all set in yet. It’s such a whirlwind. I’m sure I’ll have some time over the summer to look back at what experience I’ve had here.”

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the Red Wings’ locker room, Chelios prepared for playing in a record-tying 247th playoff game on Thursday. Chelios’ friend and former Montreal teammate Patrick Roy currently hold the mark.
Abdelkader (8) hopes to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut this week when the Red Wings host Nashville in Games 1 and 2 at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday and Saturday.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s a friend that I’m beating, but he has nothing to be ashamed of,” Chelios said. “He has his Cups. He’s got his games-played and he’s a hall of famer.”

The oldest player in the league, Chelios is equally as proud of eventually setting a new playoff games-played record as early as Game 2 on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

“That’s something that I would take a little pride in,” said Chelios, 46. “The fact that if you look at the playoff games that I’ve played in it’s almost like three more years added on to my career. It’s a lot of hockey and the fact that I’ve been on some great teams and have been able to make the playoffs every year, I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment from an individual standpoint.”

Abdelkader was 3-years-old when Chelios made his Stanley Cup playoffs debut and scored his first NHL goal against the Bruins in the Boston Gardens.

“I’m just as excited and just as nervous as the first one,” Chelios said. “I hope I can get a goal or somehow contribute to us winning. Everybody says that this is the time of the year that you wait for. The success that we’ve had in the regular-season, not that it doesn’t mean something to win a Presidents’ Trophy – I’m just as proud of that as the Jennings – but now is when you realize how close it really is to winning the Stanley Cup. This is the start.”

With the likelihood of Mikael Samuelsson returning to action from the injury list, it’s not known if Abdelkader will make his playoff debut in Game 1. But Wings coach Mike Babcock certainly hasn’t expressed any reservations to insert the rookie into the lineup.

“We’re going to have a lot of game-time or morning decisions to see how guys responded today,” Babcock said. “We’ve had a number of injuries and it looks like some guys are starting to turn around.

“We’ve very comfortable playing either (Abdelkader) or (Darren) Helm. Abby was very good in both games that he played. He’s confident. He has a big body. He plays hard and seems to be real intelligent with and without the puck. He’s going to be a good NHL player. Whether he’s going to be a good NHL player tomorrow, I don’t know the answer to that question.”




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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