Numbers help tell Lidstrom's story
If Nicklas Lidstrom isn't the greatest defenseman in NHL history, he's certainly in the conversation.
The 42-year-old Detroit Red Wings legend has decided that 20 seasons in the NHL are enough, so he's calling it a career -- though judging by his performance this season, there's no question he can still play at a high level. Few players have shown the kind of consistent brilliance that Lidstrom has exhibited during his two decades in the NHL, and even fewer have done it with such class and dignity.
Here's a numerical look at the career of one of the great players in NHL history:
1 -- Seasons in which Lidstrom had a negative plus-minus rating. He was minus-2 in 2010-11, the only time in his brilliant career he was below plus-7 -- he bounced back with a plus-21 rating this season. Lidstrom had three seasons (2002-03, 2006-07 and 2007-08) in which he was a career-best plus-40, and his career mark of plus-450 is the best among players who were active this season.
2 -- Lidstrom's rank in career assists among players active in 2011-12. His 878 assists are more than everyone except Philadelphia's Jaromir Jagr, who has 988. He's tops among active defensemen -- Chris Pronger is next at 541 -- and sixth all-time.
3 -- Goals scored by Lidstrom against St. Louis on Dec. 15, 2010 -- the only hat trick of his career. His last two-goal game came on Nov. 5, 2011, against Anaheim.
4 -- Stanley Cups won by the Red Wings during Lidstrom's time with the team. The Wings won in 1997, repeated the next year, won again in 2002 (when he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP) and for a fourth time in 2008 -- when Lidstrom became the first European-born captain to accept the Cup.
5 -- Lidstrom's uniform number throughout his entire career in Detroit. He inherited the number from Rick Green, who wore it in 1990-91. Before Lidstrom, only one other Wing (Ebbie Goodfellow) had worn No. 5 for more than seven seasons.
6 -- Seasons in which Lidstrom served as Detroit's captain. He took over after Steve Yzerman retired in 2006; two years later, he became the first European-born captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup.
7 -- Norris Trophies won by Lidstrom, tying him with Hall of Famer Doug Harvey for second on the All-Time list behind Bobby Orr (8). Lidstrom won six times in a span of seven seasons beginning in 2000-01, then earned his seventh Norris last year.
8 -- Longest assist streak in Lidstrom's career. He piled up 12 assists during an eight-game span from March 17, 2002, to April 10, 2002.
9 -- Lidstrom's all-time rank among defensemen in goals scored. His 264 goals are the most for any defenseman whose career began after 1990. Lidstrom is 50 goals ahead of runner-up Sergei Gonchar among defensemen who were active this season and ninth on the all-time list for blueliners -- six behind Orr.
10 -- Times in which Lidstrom was named a First-Team All-Star. He was named to the First Team for the first of six consecutive seasons in 1997-98, was a First-Team All-Star three straight times from 2005-06 through 2006-07, and again last season. Lidstrom also made the Second Team twice; his total of 12 All-Star selections is second among defenseman to Ray Bourque's 16.
11 -- Game-winning goals in the playoffs by Lidstrom. He's tied for 32nd on the all-time list, but is No. 1 among defensemen.
12 -- Games missed by Lidstrom in 2011-12, including 11 due to an ankle injury sustained in late February, the most of his career. Lidstrom played in only 70 games this season, the lowest full-season total in his 20 NHL seasons.
19 -- Most points by Lidstrom in one playoff year. His 19 points (including a career-best six goals) helped the Wings repeat as Stanley Cup champs in 1998.
20 -- Consecutive years in which Lidstrom qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, matching the record set by Hall of Famer Larry Robinson. Lidstrom holds the mark for the most consecutive playoff years with the same team.
30 -- Goals by Lidstrom against the Chicago Blackhawks, the most he scored against any team. He also had more points against Chicago (88) than against any other opponent.
50 -- Penalty minutes taken by Lidstrom in 2005-06, the most he had in a single season. For his career, Lidstrom was assessed 514 PIM, an average of 25.7 in each of his 20 NHL seasons.
53 -- Pick used by the Red Wings to select Lidstrom in the 1989 NHL Draft. The Wings took center Mike Sillinger in the first round and defenseman Bob Boughner in the second before tabbing Lidstrom with their third-round choice. He became one of six Wings taken that year to play more than 400 NHL games, and one of four to reach 1,000.
80 -- Points by Lidstrom in 2005-06, the most productive offensive season of his career. It's also the most points by any defensemen in a single season in the 21st century. He had three other seasons of 70 or more points.
263 -- Playoff games in which Lidstrom took part, second on the all-time list behind Chris Chelios, a one-time teammate of Lidstrom in Detroit, with 266.
1,142 -- Lidstrom's final regular-season points total, fourth on the Red Wings' all-time list behind Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio. He's sixth all-time in points among defensemen in NHL history and is 50th on the all-time scoring list.