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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  -
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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 - 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