Detroit Red Wings Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Trips to playoffs more special for Lidstrom

Tuesday, 04.5.2011 / 4:48 PM ET / News
By Adam Kimelman
Share with your Friends

Trips to playoffs more special for Lidstrom
When the Red Wings clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs -- the 20th straight season they've done it -- Red Wings general manager Ken Holland talked about one of the major reasons for that streak, the longest current run in North American professional sports:

Nicklas Lidstrom.

"He's a big reason why we have been in the playoffs for 20 years, and Nick has been here for 19 of them," Holland said. "He's the best defenseman of his era and I think he's the most valuable player of his era."

Lidstrom's Hall of Fame resume already was well-polished even before this season. But at 40 years old, he's having another average -- read: stellar for mere mortals -- season. His 62 points are second among all NHL defensemen, and his 16 goals are third. His average ice time of 23:31 per game leads all Red Wings players. It's 27th among all blueliners, and one second more per game than No. 28, the Senators' Erik Karlsson, who is exactly half Lidstrom's age.

He's sixth all-time among defensemen in games played (1,491), assists (855) and points (1,108), and his 253 goals make him one of just nine blueliners all-time with at least 250. The six-time Norris Trophy winner -- and there could be a seventh coming in June -- has won four Stanley Cups.

Getting the chance to win a fifth is what Lidstrom is concentrating on now. The Wings have won the Central Division and are fighting the San Jose Sharks for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

That's a major change from last season, when the Wings struggled for most of the season. At the Olympic break, the Wings were just 28-21-12. Their 68 points left them ninth in the conference, one point behind eighth-place Calgary and 17 behind Central Division-leading Chicago.

"Having been with such a good organization for 20 years, and being part of a winning tradition here, you almost take it for granted," Lidstrom said. "I think last season was the first time where we really had to battle. We were on the bubble pretty much the whole season up until after the Olympic break."

After the break, the Red Wings played to a level hockey fans have become accustomed to over the last two decades -- they went 16-3-2 to finish fifth in the West with 102 points, 10 behind Chicago.

They won a dramatic seventh game in Phoenix in the first round, but lost in five games in the conference semifinals to the San Jose Sharks.

The experience of fighting and clawing over those final 21 games just to make the playoffs taught Lidstrom something -- that making the playoffs really isn't all that easy. For the first time, he said, he learned to really appreciate making the postseason.

"Yeah, I think I do (appreciate it more now)," he said. "I think I know that especially with the parity in the league the way it is now, it's so close. Looking at the races in both conferences, it's such a close race where it might come down to the last game Sunday who is going to make the playoffs or not. It's such a hard League to win in nowadays … so I think that makes you appreciate it even more."

To show that appreciation, he's going to keep going full bore, the same as he has all season, for the Wings' final three games. For one thing, there's that second seed still up for grabs. Also, he believes it's important to enter the postseason on a good streak.

"I think that can carry you into the playoffs, if you're playing well down the stretch in the last week of the regular season," he said. "And I think it's hard to just kind of sit and wait for the playoffs and then all of a sudden you're supposed to turn it on and play your best. I think you can carry that momentum into the playoffs and that's something we have talked about as a team, to play well and really pay attention to details in our games, whether it's special teams or defensive-zone play, little things like that. I think you need to be on top of it, and so I think it's important to play well heading into the playoffs."
Having been with such a good organization for 20 years, and being part of a winning tradition here, you almost take it for granted. I think last season was the first time where we really had to battle. We were on the bubble pretty much the whole season up until after the Olympic break. - Nicklas Lidstrom

He's also helping pass that message along to the team's younger players. While many of them were part of back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008-09, roles have changed. Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard all have far different roles this season than they did just two seasons ago.

"You try to help the guys, especially the younger guys, when the playoffs come around," he said. "You know you're going to need the depth. You never know what can happen in the playoffs with injuries or whatnot. So you have to be prepared. You have to be … if you're not playing, you've got to be, you know, working out after practices, just being ready just in case so you can jump right in. That's something we try to talk about as a team."

He said Howard, who got his first taste of being a starting playoff goaltender last season, learned an important lesson by going through the two-round experience.

"I think he gained a lot of experience being part of the playoffs last year, knowing what it takes and that it is different than the regular season and the pressure is there and you have to show up every night," Lidstrom said. "It's a lot tougher than the regular season. I think he learned that from last season."

Lidstrom also learned his own lessons, and despite his 247 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience -- second all-time to Chris Chelios' 266 -- the usually unflappable veteran admits to still feeling the butterflies.

"I still get excited to hit the second season as we sometimes call it when the playoffs start, and I still get a little bit nervous, I still get the jitters," he said. "I look forward to the playoffs and people in this town really get excited about the playoffs, too. So it's something I'm really looking forward to still."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80