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Morning Line

One day in the near future Lidstrom will finally announce the end of his playing career. Hockey fans everywhere, at every age, should try to catch him in action as often as possible. A defenseman of his calibre comes along very rarely, and his talent should be appreciated while it is still possible to do so.

-Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey where you can read more on Lidstrom.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nick+lidstrom

Comments

DigitalGypsy66's avatar

That’s a no brainer.

Posted by DigitalGypsy66 on 12/12/10 at 11:40 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Watching Nick operate in person reveals a few surprises.  I watched Lidstrom and only Lidstrom for a period’s worth of shifts some time ago, and I was stunned to find out how much he skates when the puck’s nowhere near him. 

When the Wings’ forwards are cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Lidstrom’s constantly shifting position, especially laterally, to place himself in the right position to both be open for a pass back to the point and to ensure that he’s between the puck and the goal, and when he’s patrolling the defensive zone, even with his reduced reach—nobody seems to have noticed that Lidstrom’s transitioned from a defenseman who used his one-handed sweep check to jab the puck off opponents’ sticks to a defenseman who usually plays with two hands on his stick after he tore the tendon in his elbow two years ago, and I think it’s pretty damn amazing that he’s made the adjustment nearly seamlessly—he’s always moving, anticipating plays and attempting to place himself between either the puck, or where/to whom he believes the puck is headed, and the goal.  Simultaneously, he’s shifting the angles of his skates and stick to attempt to intercept passes and block shots whenever possible.

There are also a few Lidstrom standards—his willingness to literally seal the left goalpost with his skate to prevent wraparounds, his adoption of the classic Yzerman “left wing sneak-in” on the power play, his very obviously wide-angled shots that are meant to be tipped or retrieved off the Joe’s bouncy plywood-reinforced end boards, etc.—and when people talk about the concept that he’s lost a stride…

I make two points.  First, he’s probably as fast a backwards skater as he is going forward, and he’s got perhaps the best lateral mobility of any defenseman I’ve ever seen, and second, people forget that Nick’s never had more than a third gear.  A decade ago, when he and Larry Murphy were patrolling the blueline, if a crafty forward could split the two, you knew that Murph wasn’t going to waddle his way back as he was and remains slower than molasses in January, and Nick simply couldn’t catch up unless he was going backwards, if at all.  That was the reason that he was paired with Rafalski for such a long period of time despite the fact that they play similar styles—Raffy can motor—and it’s one of the reasons that he’s always moving his feet to stay in position to “make the simple play” 100% of the time…

And that’s the best part of Lidstrom’s game.  He makes the logical, simple play every time he touches the puck, and it’s astonishing to watch him play for an extended period of time and then watch other defensemen struggle to just tap the puck out of trouble or literally pivot the entire ice surface when the puck’s on their stick like Lidstrom can because of his fantastic vision and playmaking ability.  The only other player I’ve watched in person playing who could “see the ice” like Nick was Slava Fetisov, and I only saw it in flashes, but he really did have Gretzky-like, “I’m thinking three plays ahead and anticipating all the eventualities” vision.  Fetisov had Lidstrom’s near cold-blooded level of calmness, too. 

Two more things: I’m no longer surprised that Lidstrom’s best pal on the team is a similar technician, albeit a much less nuanced one, in Tomas Holmstrom, and as far as I know, Lidstrom’s still planning on working in developmental (read youth) hockey when his career ends.  Also, the Wings will have to try to convince Lidstrom that, should he ever want to give NHL’ers pointers instead of 12-year-olds, that he can make as much of a difference in Novi as he could in Vasteras, because I think the chances of him going back to Sweden are 50-50 at this point, and it’ll be a sad day when he doesn’t call Metro Detroit home.  We have an IKEA here for a reason wink

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/12/10 at 12:14 PM ET

Avatar

I love reading your posts, George, even in a comments section. Makes me feel like Larry Murphy with a whole tray of hot dogs.  Here’s to your health.

Posted by herschel c. wollmack on 12/12/10 at 02:46 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

terrific George. Went to Friday’s game, going back Wednesday to watch some more of The Perfect Human, and the amazing waterbug on ice #13

Posted by Rdwings28 on 12/12/10 at 10:35 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Get well soon, George.  Posts like that are way we miss you a lot.

Here’s hoping Brendan Smith will pick up a few things during his tenureship in GR.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 12/12/10 at 10:46 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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