Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Lidstrom only getting better with age

Categories: DET vs. PHO, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes

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Wings blue-liner Nicklas Lidstrom has won the Norris Trophy for the NHL’s top defenceman six times in his illustrious career. (Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Wings blue-liner Nicklas Lidstrom has won the Norris Trophy for the NHL’s top defenceman six times in his illustrious career. (Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

The first time Nicklas Lidstrom performed on Jonathan Ericsson's team, it was Lidstrom's video image while a young Ericsson played NHL 95 as a youngster in his native Sweden.

He's probably better in real life, Ericsson said of Lidstrom, his Red Wings teammate who was announced Monday by the NHL as a finalist for the Norris Trophy.

Six-time Norris Trophy winner Lidstrom is the oldest finalist in the history of the trophy - he'll turn 41 on Thursday - and admitted his age helps him appreciate the recognition even more.

"It means more as you get older, the Detroit captain said. "You know how hard it is to put all the efforts into the off-season to get ready for a long year."

Older and better

Lidstrom finished the season with 62 points, an NHL record for a 40-something defenceman. Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins are the other finalists, but his teammates left no doubt as to where they'd cast their vote.

The three finalists should have been "Nick Lidstrom, Nick Lidstrom and Nick Lidstrom," Wings defenceman Ruslan Salei said.

"When you play alongside him, you get so spoiled you don't really think about it too much, but those few games that I missed there, I got a chance to see it from the outside, and it really is ridiculous what he does out there game after game, added Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall.

"I don't see anybody else getting it, to be honest with you. There are a lot of good defencemen, but they're in a different league than he is."

Added centre Henrik Zetterberg: "In my eyes, there's no chance he could lose it."

Prior to Lidstrom, Chris Chelios (40.3 years of age) was the oldest nominee when he was announced as a Norris finalist in 2001-02. Lidstrom already is the oldest Norris winner.

He was 38 years old when he won in 2007-08.

Only Bobby Orr (eight) and Doug Harvey (seven) have won the Norris more often than Lidstrom, who is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy.

"That's never been a goal of mine to do something like that," Lidstrom said of catching Orr.
Lidstrom is the only player to win a major individual NHL award six times and never be a Hart Trophy finalist.

On his own

Detroit winger Johan Franzen, who missed Game 4 of Detroit's first-round sweep of Phoenix with what is believed to be a left ankle injury, skated on his own in a track suit after the Wings finished practice Monday and his status for the second round remained uncertain.

"He didn't practise with the team," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That's all I've got for you."

Zetterberg optimistic for 2nd round

Zetterberg, who missed the opening round with a left knee sprain, went through his second consecutive practice without issue and announced himself progressing toward a second-round debut.

"I felt good in practice today," said Zetterberg, Detroit's leading regular-season scorer with 80 points. "I think once I have a few more practices, I'll be ready to go for Game 1."

Zetterberg doesn't anticipate that he'll be 100 per cent healthy, but didn't see that as a concern.

"You're never 100 per cent for the playoffs," he said. "I'll be as close as I can get, probably."

In Coyotes' corner

His team may have dispatched Phoenix quickly from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but Detroit general manager Ken Holland is hopeful that the Wings didn't do likewise to the club's chances of survival in Arizona.

"Hopefully, they keep the team there," Holland said. "They had great crowds two nights in a row (against Detroit in the opening round of the playoffs), a lot of energy in the building."

In 1996, after losing a first-round series to the Wings, the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Phoenix and became the Coyotes.