Last matchup for future hall of famers?
Both own Norris Trophies, Olympic gold medals and Stanley Cup rings.
And as they take the ice Saturday at HP Pavilion for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal between Rob Blake's San Jose Sharks and Nicklas Lidstrom's Detroit Red Wings, it's entirely possible that this could be the last time these two future hall of famers face each other on the ice.
A San Jose win would eliminate the Wings and captain Lidstrom, 40, whose contract is up at the end of the season.
An NHLer since 1991, Lidstrom doesn't know yet what he plans to do moving forward with his career.
"We'll see," Lidstrom said. "I'm going to make a decision after the series is over.
"My focus is on this game tonight."
Sharks captain Blake is certain of one thing - if he retires, hockey will miss Lidstrom as much as Lidstrom will miss hockey.
"I think he's probably the best defenceman I've ever seen," Blake said.
"His (six) Norris Trophies and his (four) Stanley Cups back up it up, but also what he did last game. It was a crucial time for the Red Wings and he was their best player.
"That's their standard for the last 20 years or however long he's been playing."
Blake, 40, like Lidstrom, won't make a call on his future until he's finished dealing with the present.
"I'll make a decision in the summer," Blake said. "I go year by year."
Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart, who left Game 4 in the first period after absorbing a Blake bodycheck, remains uncertain as to whether he'll be able to go in Game 5.
"It's a game-time decision," Stuart said following Saturday's game-day skate. "I'm hopeful that I can play. I'm optimistic that I can.
"It felt not bad. I'm pretty pleased with the way it felt."
If Stuart can't play, Wings coach Mike Babcock indicated he'd insert Brett Lebda into the lineup, which will otherwise remain the same as in Game 4.
Winger Patrick Eaves will miss his fourth straight game due to a hyper-extended right elbow.
The Sharks offered no indication of any lineup changes for Game 5.
A point in Game 5 would extend the playoff scoring streak of Detroit forward Johan Franzen to 12 games, which would tie the club record set by Gordie Howe in 1964.
The Sharks weren't surprised to see Franzen come out of his goal-scoring funk. "He's a good player," San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov said. "Everybody knows he's a good player, and everybody knows he's played well in the playoffs."
Franzen, who has collected 31 goals and 58 points in his last 50 Stanley Cup games, etched himself into both the Wings and the National Hockey League record book in a number of categories via his four-goal, six-point outburst in Game 4.
His six points set a franchise record for most points in one playoff game. The previous high of five was shared by Norm Ullman (April 7, 1963 and April 7, 1964), as well as Steve Yzerman (May 5, 1996).
Franzen also set a Wings playoff record for most points in one period with four. The previous high was three, set on nine different occasions, most recently by Henrik Zetterberg on May 1, 2008.
His four points in one period also tied an NHL playoff record, previously done 13 times, most recently by Brad Richards of Dallas on April 27, 2008.
Franzen tied a franchise mark with four goals in a playoff game. It's the third time a Detroit player has accomplished that feat. Carl Liscombe did it on April 3, 1945 against Boston and Ted Lindsay on April 5, 1955 against Montreal.
Franzen's three goals in one period tied a Detroit playoff mark set by Lindsay in that same April 5, 1955 game versus the Canadiens.
The Wings have steadily increased the playing time of defenceman Jonathan Ericsson in the series and with Stuart's Game 4 injury, plus a healthy lead that saw the club scale back Lidstrom's ice time to 21:17, Ericsson skated a game-high 27:33.
"The more ice you get, the easier it is," Ericsson said. "When you're not playing, you get cold, you get (lactic) acid in your legs and your legs feel slow."
By rotating Ericsson through his top four rearguards and basically going with five defenceman, Babcock thinks he's getting more out of his second-year blue-liner.
"We actually think the Big E plays better like that," Babcock said. "That's why we cycled E through. He's a real good player, and we think he's going to be a better player when he plays in the top four and plays all the time.
"He makes those skill plays that sometimes the people he plays with don't expect. Every D-man, every player will tell you it's easier playing 15 minutes than eight minutes. And when he plays with everyone, he plays that much."