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White's hitting stride among NHL's best

Wings' veteran tops league's defensemen in plus/minus rating

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 5:27 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
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White\'s hitting stride among NHL\'s best
Ian White leads all NHL defensemen with a plus-21 rating heading into Monday's game at Edmonton. (Photo by Getty Images)
EDMONTON, Alberta – It’s been nearly a month since he return from a fractured cheekbone and Ian White feels that he and the Red Wings are on the right course.

“I feel good out there, I feel like I'm making good decisions most of the time,” said White, who leads all NHL defensemen with a plus-21 heading into tonight’s game against the Oilers at Rexall Place.

“Just as a team, I think we're starting to hit our stride here,” he said. “We're playing really good hockey lately, starting to get rewarded as well.”

In the last month, White has a goal, seven assists and is a plus-13 in 12 games since returning to action, and his plus-21 is second-best overall behind Boston’s second-year center Tyler Seguin (+22).

White is a plus-8 in the last five games, including a plus-3 performance in the Wings’ 8-2 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“It's something I definitely take pride in, whenever you're on the ice for more goals for than against you got to be doing something right,” White said. “But I think it's more of a positive to the way the team is playing. They're scoring goals. When you're putting up 7-8 goals a night lots of guys are going to get the rewards from that. That's more of a team stat. Five guys on the ice are getting the same numbers. I'm fortunate enough to get a few extra than some of the other guys but definitely can't take too much stock into that.”

It is a team game and some of White’s success is generated from playing on the Wings’ top defensive pairing and power play unit with Nicklas Lidstrom. However, as Lidstrom points out, White’s savvy tendencies – among other things – has made him a perfect fit for the seven-time Norris Trophy winner.

“I think he just plays solid defensively, and very seldom does he get beat on plays out of the corners or on one-on-ones, and he’s a competitive guy, and that shows, particularly in our own zone where he’s battling hard,” Lidstrom said. “I think we try to complement each other with him being a right-hander and I’m a left-hander, being in the right spots and helping each other out and I think it’s been a good fit so far.”

The 27-year-old White is also second among Wings’ defensemen in takeaways (12) and shots on goal (70), trialing Lidstrom in both categories. But the amazing thing about White’s season, to this point at least, is that he’s only had two minus-games through his first 27 games. And both games came in late October – he was a minus-2 in each – when the Wings as a team were slumping through a 0-5-1 stretch.

A lot of White’s early season success comes from the Wings’ system and the iconic defensive partner that he’s playing besides, defenseman Niklas Kronwall said, but not all of it.

“At some certain extend, absolutely, but at the same time Whitey has been playing great ever since he’s got here, and that’s regardless of who he’s been on the ice with,” Kornwall said. “There are times during the game when he’s not out there with Nick, so he’s been finding ways to make sure that he’s been on the right side of the ice when we score. He’s been doing a great job for us all year, making plays and keeping it simple in our own zone and quick first passes.”

There’s something else that has impressed young defenseman Jakub Kindl, who hopes to soon emulate White’s shoot-first mentality, especially when it comes to special teams play.

“I just love the way he shoots the puck,” Kindl said. “Every time he has the puck on the blue line he’s not looking to pass it, he’s trying to shoot it and he gets the good results, and I wish that I could be more like that, too.

“Especially when you watch him on the power play, every time he gets it up at the point the first thought in his mind is to shoot the puck.”

Since signing White to a two-year free agency contract during the offseason, the veteran blue-liner, who has played for four other NHL clubs in his short career, quickly meshed with his new teammates.

“I think he just jumped right in and it feels like he’s here for quite some time, to be honest,” Kronwall said. “He’s been playing great ever since he got here. He came into camp, had a hell of a camp I think, and he’s been rolling ever since.”
The bonus for White was that the training camp time spent with his new defensive partner allowed him to put any nerves or anxiety in check prior to the start of the regular-season.

“Initially at camp there were some nerves, but it's a good thing that we got to go to camp together, play some exhibitions together,” White said. “We weren't thrown together right in the middle of the fire. We had some time to get to know each other and work the kinks out, so I was definitely nervous for the first few days getting the chance to play with him, more along the lines of, “Don't screw this up,'' nerves, but with his personality and sitting beside him in the locker room he made it very stress-free and a very easy environment to be relaxed and play the way I know how to play hockey.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




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
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