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Homer's psyched for second season

Wings' veteran cherishes postseason time of year

Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 6:48 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Tomas Holmstrom is entering his 15th NHL postseason, having played in 175 Stanley Cup playoff games with the Red Wings. (Photo by Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Though his knees are a mess – and they’ve been so for years – Tomas Holmstrom’s favorite time of the year is now. Not because the long, grueling season is over and rest may actually do him some good.

No, Holmstrom prefers to psych out the pain of having two bad knees, and whatever else maybe ailing him at the time. It’s all a mental game, mind over matter, and one that the Red Wings’ veteran forward usually wins come playoff-time despite the physical abuse that he takes on the job.

“We’ve have guys in the league who haven’t played in the playoffs at all, throughout their career, and it’s sad,” said Holmstrom, who has played in 175 playoff games. Only teammate Nicklas Lidstrom and New Jersey goalie Martin Broduer have played in more among active players.

“It’s a long off-season for those guys too, because this is the best time of the year,” Holmstrom continued. “You work so hard through 82 games and now this is the fun part, the crowd is going nuts. It’s playoff hockey and everything is faster, harder, everything is on the line and it’s a fun time to play.”

Not since the 2003-04 season has Holmstrom played so sparingly for the Wings. This season was his lowest average ice-time per game, which is roughly four-minutes less than his average over the past six seasons.

Still, Holmstrom will likely play a crucial role in the Wings’ opening round playoff series against the Predators, which begins Wednesday night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Of his 11 goals, 10 came on the Wings’ power play this season.

“You just play the same way,” he said, “and hopefully, in the playoffs it seems like more pucks get to the net because now you’re playing with more desperation, so the style fits me pretty good.”

Holmstrom will be key on the power play where he usually sets-up shop in front of the crease and screens the goaltender. Unfortunately for the Wings, Predators goals Pekka Rinne is 6-foot-5 and five-inches taller than the Wings’ net-front disturber.

“Yeah, you have to look over your shoulder more to see where he is looking,” Holmstrom said, of Rinne. “But sooner or later he might go down in a butterfly and when he’s down there he really can’t see anything. But he’s a really good goalie and it will be a big test to get some screens on him.”

The Predators gave up just 40 power-play goals, compared to the 50 surrendered by Detroit, so getting opportunities, even with the man-advantage, could be a daunting task for the Wings’ specialty team.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Patric Hornqvist is quickly gaining notoriety, especially back home in Sweden, as his popularity grows in his role as the next great NHL net-front presence. The 6-foot forward led the Predators with 27 goals this season, including eight on the power play.

“They’re really talking a lot about him as the new Holmstrom back in Sweden,” Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “I think he’s done a really good job in front of the net the last few years. He really knows how to score and he has a really good shot, too. He’s a dangerous player for sure around the net.”

Holmstrom even offered up his critique of the Predators’ forward Tuesday afternoon, saying, “He’s a strong skate and he sees the ice well with a good shot and he competes really hard around the net with some good hand-eye coordination. He’s a good player for them, he’s scored a lot of goals for them.”

One way to defend Hornqvist is to stop him from getting to the front of the net, thus giving Jimmy Howard a better chance at seeing shots from the point.

“It depends on where the puck is coming from in different situations,” Ericsson said. “But let’s say the puck is coming out of the corner and up to the defenseman and he’s one of the half wall guys and trying to come through you, try to box him out early. But you can’t hold him up too long otherwise you’re going to get an interference penalty. There’s always this fine line that you don’t know where it’s at, but you try to box people out as much as you can.”

A veteran of 26 playoff series victories, it wouldn’t be long before the curtain comes down on Holmstrom’s incredible career, one that saw him reach the 1,000 games played plateau earlier this year. But now, in the twilight of his career, he’s learned to appreciate the playoffs a lot more than he did as a younger player in the late 90s.

“You never know how long you’re going to play, maybe this is my last year, or maybe there’s one more, who knows,” he said. “But for sure, it’s an end of the road, but you have fun, suck it in and see what happens. … This is the best time of the year.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | Bill_Roose



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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