The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/25/11 at 10:17 PM ET
As the practice update and Nicklas Lidstrom as Norris Trophy Finalist posts fell off the front page, here’s a new post combining the two topics, with the main focuses involving Lidstrom and the fact that the Wings are both enjoying their rest and feel quite happy watching potential playoff opponents wear each other down.
Regarding Lidstrom’s Norris candidacy, the Red Wings’ captain told the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell that he’s proud of his eleventh nomination and attempt to win his seventh Norris Trophy, just as he’s pleased to be nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly forward, but his goal for this season didn’t involve earning individual awards via a 62-point performance:
“I never set out the goal of being nominated or trying to win the Norris,” Lidstrom said. “I’ve always looked at it as being a bonus. Last season, I could’ve played better and could’ve contributed more offensively.”
The only thing Lidstrom was unhappy about was finishing as a minus player (minus-two) for the first time in his career.
“It’s something I wasn’t very happy about,” Lidstrom said.
Lidstrom says that he is honored by the nomination, and he wouldn’t mind becoming the first 40-year-old winner:
“I appreciate it even more as I get older, knowing how hard it is in the off-season,” said Lidstrom, who added catching Bobby Orr’s league record of eight wins is not a goal of his.
In fact, Lidstrom hinted that his first Norris might be the one he’s most proud of.
“They’re all special,” Lidstrom said. “The first one was very special, being the first European to win it.”
Lidstrom’s teammates were positively gushy in talking about Lidstrom’s calibre of play and leadership qualities while speaking to DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples:
“It’s awesome,” [Henrik] Zetterberg said of Lidstrom’s 11th nomination for the prestigious award. “He had a great season this year, again. It’s fun to be a part of it. I don’t know if they announced anyone else yet, and I don’t know if they have to. To me, he’s the Norris Trophy, and for us, he meant so much this year, playing the way he has been and keeps doing it in the playoffs.”
“I think the one thing you just can’t say enough of is how game in, game out, he just plays at such a high level,” [Kris]Draper said. “You realize at times how if you have a bad game, you want to shake it off, and you look at him, and he’s just this calming influence - always. Just the way he handles himself, the way he carries himself, the confidence he has. I’ve been lucky to play with him my whole career in Detroit, and just watch arguably the greatest defenseman of all time play, and he just continues to do it.”
Mike Babcock said that he doesn’t have to do much coaching for Lidstrom; in fact, Lidstrom might do more coaching in his interactions with the coaching staff. And while the Wings’ coach isn’t old enough to have watched some of the players Lidstrom is compared to, Babcock says there isn’t anyone better.
“To me, he’s in the top d-men of all time, and the top players of all time. When you’re voted ‘Player of the Decade’, that speaks for itself. … There’s no player who has been as good as long in my opinion, that I’ve been around or seen, like Nick.”
Mike Modano’s figured out that Lidstrom’s off-ice workout routines play a large role in the fact that Lidstrom’s still going strong at 40:
“Just his routine,” Modano said. “His consistency, he’s pretty disciplined in what he does day in and day out. Obviously he knows what works and what doesn’t. He’s not a very vocal guy; he comes here and professionally does his job, leads by example with what he does and how he works. That’s all you can really ask for from a captain and one of your best players.”
Lidstrom offered some intriguing tidbits in that regard to the Associated Press’s Larry Lage:
“It means a lot to me to play at this level in this league at this age,” Lidstrom said. “I sat next to Chris Chelios for nine years, so I saw up close what it takes at this age to stay in shape.”
Lidstrom’s six-foot-two, 190-pound body is chiseled thanks to a year-round workout that includes exercise before practice and after games along with a sensible diet. He eats oatmeal, three eggs over easy, toast or bagel, coffee and juice made by his wife at home or by a cook on the road for breakfast. Spaghetti with meat sauce and grilled chicken are on the menu for lunch followed by soup or salad before the puck drops. When Lidstrom gets home after games, he eats “whatever is in the fridge” and usually washes it down with Amstel Light or cabernet.
“Sure, I eat junk food like pizza or McDonald’s, but not that often,” Lidstrom said. “When you work out as much as we do it helps to stay in shape, but I really take care of myself in the off-season.”
The four-time Stanley Cup champion decided last summer to put retirement on hold, pausing only because his oldest son started school in Sweden last fall, and signed a US$6.2 million, one-year deal. Just like it’s tough to trick him on the ice, Lidstrom won’t get fooled into providing a hint about his plans for next season.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “I’ll wait until the end of the year.”
Modano’s happy that Lidstrom’s on his side…
“Nick’s intelligence is what sets him a part,” Modano said. “He knows where to be all the time without having to overexert himself and without getting hit too often. It’s frustrating playing against him. He’s not physically wearing you down, but he’s always in the way with his body or his stick and you just can’t get away from him.”
As is Jimmy Howard, who says that Lidstrom’s mere presence on the ice tends to yield a dump-in:
“When you watch a guy come down the ice and see No. 5 in front, you can see the look of frustration come over their face,” Howard said. “They usually just dump it in.”
The Windsor Star posted a video of Lidstrom speaking to the media…
As did the Red Wings’ website:
If you haven’t seen it already, the Wings’ website posted a clip of Babcock’s off-day presser:
Henrik Zetterberg practiced with the team, but Johan Franzen did not, though David Guralnick’s photo gallery of Monday’s practice reveals that Franzen donned a track suit to skate with the “Black Aces.”
I’m not sure what to think about this...
Otherwise, the Wings talked about the luxuries they earned in resting up and watching potential playoff opponents knock the snot out of each other, though Babcock told the Detroit News’s Bob Wojonowski that he’s actually more uncomfortable watching hockey than he is coaching it:
“It’s way more nerve-wracking watching than coaching, I can tell you that,” Mike Babcock said Monday. “I’m way more comfortable just being on the bench than watching. I can’t stand that. I couldn’t be a fan, I’d be a nervous mess. I’m not even in the series and I can’t sleep after the games are over.”
That’s the prevailing reaction around the Wings’ dressing room, as they heal up, rest up and get fired up watching other teams battle. The Wings haven’t played since finishing their sweep of Phoenix last Wednesday, and probably won’t play again until Thursday or Friday, potentially a nine-day layoff. That’s because other series just aren’t ending. When teams get down in the playoffs now, they don’t stay down.
Chicago has rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 at Vancouver. Incredibly, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was compelled to bench alleged star goalie Roberto Luongo, then had to bring him back when the backup got injured. San Jose rallied from a 4-0 second-period deficit to beat Los Angeles, but the Kings bounced back to avoid elimination.
The tension has been unrelenting, with 11 overtime games already, and the first round isn’t even over. This is what the NHL wanted, enforcing the rules tighter and calling more penalties, thus creating more power plays and picturesque goals. Buffalo-Philadelphia and Montreal-Boston each have gone to overtime twice in a row, and who knows which way those series will spin.
These are the Stanley Cup playoffs in a time of parity and power plays. The high-scoring action might make the coaches and goalies nervous, but it’s great fun for the fans. Well, at least until their team is back on the ice, and back on that ledge.
The Wings agreed with Wojnowski’s suggestions while speaking to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell:
“You look at other series and other situations and it’s amazing what momentum can do in other series,” Detroit forward Kris Draper said. “That’s why when we had that first opportunity to knock Phoenix out, that’s what we wanted to do. It’s nice to sit back and watch. Every other night, you’re cheering for another team. Keep the series going as long as you can.”
“Obviously, Chicago and Vancouver is pretty intriguing,” [Danny] Cleary said. “What’s transpired is pretty amazing. I couldn’t believe that (Cory Schneider played instead of Roberto Luongo). Obviously, they’re looking for answers that’s for sure. Luongo, confidence-wise, isn’t where he wants to be.”
“The Chicago and L.A. series are weird ones,” Cleary said. “Just when you think it’s going to be over or should be over, all of sudden teams are showing a lot of life, especially Chicago. L.A. has really surprised me. They should be ahead in the series.”
As the Wings wait until at least Thursday or Friday to play, Jimmy Howard says that he’s got no sympathy whatsoever for the goaltenders whose performances have played significant roles in extending the Wings’ rest period from seven to possibly as long as nine or ten days:
“Not at all,” said Howard when asked if felt sorry for his goaltending brethren. “Nope, because you know that could be you and they wouldn’t feel bad for you.”
“I think it’s pretty wild what’s going on in Philly.” Howard said. “Something seems to be working for them whenever somebody gets pulled. It’s crazy the way things go this time of year. It just goes to show, no matter what the score is, teams can come back these days.”
Henrik Zetterberg, who’s improving health-wise, put it bluntly…
“I felt good in practice today,” Zetterberg said. “I think once I have a few more practices, I’ll be ready to go for Game 1. You’re never 100 per cent for the playoffs. As close as I can get, probably.”
“It’s been awhile since I’ve played a game,” Zetterberg said. “You want to play, but at the same time, it’s nice to see other teams play more games and laying out each other.”
Patrick Eaves and Brad Stuart spoke to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness about their statuses as spectators…
“It’s been a little crazy, fun to watch,” Wings defenseman Brad Stuart said. “We’re just waiting around to see what’s going to happen. There are some pretty interesting things going on in the other series.”
“The teams were so close (in the West),” Stuart said. “Right up to the end, the last game of the year decided who was getting in. It was a real good indicator of how tough it really is. Then you see how unpredictable it really is.”
“Every night it’s fun to watch,” Detroit forward Patrick Eaves said. “It’s a lot of good hockey. That’s what playoffs are supposed to be[.] We all knew it was tight and this is just a continuation of it[.] The regular season teams could go from fourth to ninth. There are a lot of great teams out here.”
“It seems like awhile ago home ice was a huge advantage,” Eaves said. “That hasn’t been the case, even last year we didn’t think it was that big of an advantage.”
And these comments are plain interesting:
Howard: “I don’t know about the rest of the guys, speaking for myself I did find myself getting bored over the weekend. I wanted to be back out here on the ice. I was excited to wake up this morning and come down here.”
Zetterberg: “If you’re going to go all the way you have to have at least one short trip, doesn’t matter when it comes. It’s tough to go all the way if you have to go to the West Coast all the time. We did one but the good thing about that is we only had to go there once. That is huge.”
Kris Draper told Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji that the extra rest won’t hurt the Wings because the Wings understand that if they aren’t ready to go whenever Game 1 of their second round series begins, they might be golfing in a hurry:
“We’ve got to maintain our focus,” Draper said. “We had a good skate today, we had a nice weekend off. Guys working out before and after practice. We gotta remain focused and every day here we know hard those teams are playing to move on. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that when we’re here, everything’s at a high level, high tempo and we make sure we’re ready to go.”
As Wakiji notes, Lidstrom’s also enjoyed the break in a big way…
Captain Nick Lidstrom apparently isn’t too concerned with scouting the other teams. He spent time with his family, including oldest son Kevin, who is visiting after spending the school year in Sweden.
“I haven’t sat down and watched a whole game,” Lidstrom said. “I’ve watched bits and pieces. My kids love hockey, so they’re watching more than I am.”
And while Babcock’s a bit jittery while watching games, he also understands that there’s been quite a bit of compelling playoff action going on:
“It’s a lot of fun,” Babcock said. “I don’t know how much fun it is for the people that are in ‘em but for those of us watching it, who would have figured? Chicago now has made one heck of a series. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”
Also of Wings-related note: The CP’s Lori Ewing confirms in triplicate that Babcock and Wings GM Ken Holland visited two Canadian ice-dancing Olympians recently (the Canadian media’s being pretty harsh about the fact that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are daring to cheer for the Red Wings in the playoffs);
• It’s highly likely that the Wings will play the Nashville Predators in the second round, and Babcock made an intriguing comment to USA Today’s Kevin Allen about the Predators’ success:
“Exciting for them. They’ve drafted great for a long time,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Monday. “Every year, I hear Nashville has overachieved, and yet, when I see their lineup at the start of the year, I wonder how a team with Pekka Rinne in net, (Shea) Weber and Suter on the back end overachieved? To me, that seems to be like the best. Good for Trotz and those guys. (general manager) Dave Poile has done a good job.”
• According to the University of Wisconsin Badgers’ website, Chris Chelios has been added to the University of Winsconsin’s Athletic Hall of Fame;
• Via RedWingsFeed, my French is nonexistent, but “QMJHLfollower” posted a French-language profile of Wings prospect Trevor Parkes;
• And no comment regarding this note from Grand Rapids Griffins PR director Randy Cleeves:
Ville Leino joined a very short and distinguished list on Sunday when he scored 4:43 into overtime to lift Philadelphia to a 5-4 win over Buffalo, forcing a Game 7 on Tuesday night.
Only four of the Griffins’ 117 NHL alumni (100 of which are forwards or defensemen) have ever scored an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pavol Demitra performed the feat first on May 10, 1999, tallying 2:43 into the extra session to give St. Louis a 3-2 win over Dallas.
Next up was Todd White, whose goal at 2:25 of double overtime gave Ottawa a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders – that is not a misprint; the Islanders were once competitive – on April 14, 2003. Check out the 33-second mark of this video.
Most significant, of course, was Darren Helm, who scored at 3:58 of overtime on May 27, 2009 to propel the Red Wings to a 2-1 series-clinching triumph over Chicago, advancing Detroit to its second consecutive Stanley Cup Final. Click here to relive that magical moment.
This chat with Griffisn GM Bob McNamara on WOOD TV, however, I will heartily recommend:
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.