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NHL Conference Call with Nick Lidstrom

Earlier today, the NHL provided Detroit Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom to the media on a national conference call.  Nick was named as a finalist for the Norris Trophy this morning—the ninth time in ten seasons he has been nominated, and he’s a five-time winner of the award.

Here is the transcript of the Q&A session.

        Q. I wanted to know whether No. 6 would mean something for you. Obviously you tied Ray Bourque last year, but inching closer to a guy like Doug Harvey with No. 6; he’s got seven.

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Yeah, it would mean a lot. It meant a lot tying Ray Bourque which is a player I looked up to and admired when he was playing before I even came into the league. I had a chance to just watch him on TV, so that was a great honor to get No. 5, and getting No. 6 would be even better, especially with the players that have won it; Bobby Orr having eight. And so it would mean a lot to me being able to win six and passing a player like Ray Bourque.

        Q. As a follow?up, had someone told you when your career started that you would have won at least five Norris Trophies, what would have been your reaction back then as a rookie?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, I would have laughed at them right in their face and I would have been really honored to get one. To get one would have been a great honor for me. This is something that I really am proud of to be able to be nominated for so many years, and being able to win five Norris’s has been a great honor for me.

        Q. You could be playing the Flames depending on what happens in San Jose tonight. You basically had your way with them last year. What kind of a series, if, in fact, you played Calgary would you foresee and maybe make a comment on Dion Phaneuf, the defenseman also nominated for the Norris Trophy?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: To start with Dion, he’s been getting better and better every year in the league. I think this year he’s really stepped it up another notch. I think he’s a great offensive defenseman and he seems to find his role and how to play in this league, too, and that’s why he is getting better and better. He sees the ice real well and is able to jump up and play and create a lot of offense, but he’s real solid defensively, too. So I’m anticipating him to have a great career in this league and be nominated or maybe win Norris’s in the years to come, too.

        As far as Calgary, we had a tough series against them last year, too. We were able to beat them in six games, but I thought the series was very tough. If we were to play them, again, I am anticipating a similar series, very physical series.

        I watched a little bit of their first-round play here against the Sharks, and that’s been a physical series, too. So if we were to play them, I’m anticipating a very similar series where you see a lot of physical hockey, and the goaltending I think is going to be very important, too, in the second round.

        Q. Is there anything different about this year’s team and the five teams that went to the playoffs?
         
        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Looking at last year’s team, we gained some experience going into this year’s playoffs with some of the younger guys getting their feet wet last year and going deep into the playoffs and seeing what the playoffs is; it’s a grind ?? there’s a lot of hype but it is a grind, too. You have to show up every night, and you never know what’s going to be the difference in the game or in the series.

        I think some of the younger players gained a lot of experience from last year’s playoffs. And I think that’s going to help us going into the second round, too, just getting a chance to go deep, and now have one round under their belt, too, this year.

        It is a grind, and you have to be ready for every game, because every game means so much.

        Q. Do you feel as though this year’s team may be ?? is probably deeper than the previous teams?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think so. I think especially with some of the younger players, you know, getting a chance to play last year, and getting a bigger role on our team this year, we lost Robert Lang up front, Mathieu Schneider in the back end; and some of the younger players have gotten a chance to play a little bit more, looking at Filppula, Franzen; Hudler has been playing well, too. You have to go through the experience of playing in the playoffs to get better, too, and I think they have had a chance to do that knowing what it’s like now.

        Q. How do you and Brian Rafalski complement one another on the ice?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think we are very similar in the way we play. You know, he’s a very mobile defenseman. He’s good on his feet. He’s right?handed which helps, especially on the point playing power play we can get it back and forth a lot quicker with the right?hander over there. And he’s very smart and knows when to jump up on a player and when to stay back.

        It’s been a good fit for me playing with Brian where he’s being that mobile defenseman and good at reading plays and knowing when to get up on a player and when I’m joining the rush, he stays back; I think it’s working out well for us.

        Q. Go back to the Predators series, I know the talk out of Game 4 seemed to be ?? I know you made a change to Osgood, but there was a lot of talk about how the team was not handling adversity very well and not pushing back against Nashville. What adjustments were made, and what happened in that Game 5 that, I guess, maybe changed the complexion of the series for your team?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, I thought we were able to get the puck in behind their defenseman a lot more and once we get it there, hung on to it a lot more than the previous games; that makes their team play defense. The forward has to come back and stop and play defense more; whereas earlier, on we came over the blue line and shot the puck or tried to get it in or make a cross?ice pass and turn and they went the other way.

        Once we hung on to the puck and made their team play more defense, I thought we took the game over more and more, that was shift after shift and every line was doing the same thing. I thought we were tiring their defensemen out and once we had a chance to get the puck to the net, we had a lot of shots, too.

        We had a lot of shots where we tired their goalie out, and even when we were up 1?0; and they came back and tied the game up late, we said going into overtime, we had to play the same way, the same kind of grinding way where if we are going to be successful, we are going to get our chance.

        Only took us a couple minutes to win that game, and I thought that set the tone for Game 6, too. And we knew they would come out in Game 6 and they did, and they came out hard and storming. Once we settled down the first ten minutes, I thought we played a lot better and waited for opportunities to score goals, and that’s eventually what won us the series, too.

        Q. With the way the game has changed over the past four or five years, what do you have to do differently to remain a lead defenseman in the league?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think skating is probably the most important thing. You can’t use your stick to your advantage the way you were taught to do it when you were little or growing up.

        When I first came into this league, too, you were taught to hold up more or tie your guy up in the corners. With the new style, everybody is playing with the new rules. You have to be able to move your feet and be a lot better; mobility, and quicker on your feet and that’s one of the things you have to be able to do as a defenseman. You have to be able to skate and keep up with the forward.

        Q. What do you actually do with all of your Norris Trophies? Are they in a cabinet or in Sweden? Where are they?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I have one in Sweden, and the rest of them are over here in my house here. I’ve got one at home, so that’s where I keep them.

        Q. The one in Sweden; significance that it’s over there?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: That was the first one I won. That year when I won it, I flew right from Toronto back to Sweden. So that’s why I took that with me and just kept it in Sweden and that’s why that ended up in Sweden.

        Q. Can you give me a comment on Zeno Chara (phonetic), I don’t think you faced him very often, but your thoughts on his season and sort of a unique player in the NHL.

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Yeah, with his size and strength, he’s very tough to play against, but I think he’s gotten better. His foot speed has gotten better and he’s very mobile, too, for his size. He’s good at using the long stick and his size, but his feet are a lot better, too.

        I think he’s getting better and better with the puck, too, whether it’s on the power play or making a good first pass. You know, that combination of his size and strength and still being able to make plays and be a threat on the power play. I think he’s a very complete player.

        Q. Who helped shape your career as a defenseman when you started out?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: When I started out here in Detroit, Dave Lewis was the assistant coach running the D, and Dave being an old defenseman himself, I remember he taught me and Vladimir Konstantinov, we came in together, that you have to play your position well, especially I’m not the biggest and strongest player out there.

        So one of the things he emphasized a lot on was play your position right and go from there. You’re going to be able to break up a lot of plays being in the right spot at the right time, and that’s something I tried to do every time I’m out there on the ice; read the play, but be in the right position, too. I think that was the most important thing Dave taught me early on in my career.

        Q. What’s the best advice you could give a young, up?and?coming defenseman in the NHL?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: You know, skating is very important and being able to read plays and see how plays develop and I think that comes with experience. Once you play a couple years in the league and you kind of get a tendency of the speed of the game and the players what their tendencies are and what they are good at ?? I think it takes awhile, but the skating part is very important as a defenseman, being able to go from forward to backward, being mobile and being able to read plays. So I think those two things are probably the most important things.

        Q. And finally, could you just talk a little bit about having two All?Star goalies back there to rely on?

        NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, it gives the whole team confidence about how we can either put Dom or Ossy in that they both have experience and have both been there before and both have had good seasons, too. They both played well in the regular season, and it gives the whole team confidence and comfort where we can throw either one of them in where we know that they can calm the team down when it’s needed and really play well and win games for us.

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

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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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