February 11, 2011

Wings Lidstrom reflects on praise from Chara, fellow blueliners

Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Ask any defenseman throughout the National Hockey League what fellow blueliner they've always looked up to and the response will undoubtedly be a universal one.

 Now in his 19th season, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom has thrived since the moment he arrived on the scene in 1991 as a 21-year-old rookie in Motown. Throughout his memorable career he has had his praises sung over and over, as the 40-year-old Swede has won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman on six occasions.

 Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has long been vocal when it comes to the respect and adoration he has for Lidstrom. It turns out the feeling is mutual.

 "I think he's a very solid, all-around defenseman," Lidstrom said of Chara. "He's got the size to his advantage, but he's very good with the puck. He's tough to play against. He's got the good shot and the good reach, so overall he's very solid both defensively and offensively."

 While Lidstrom doesn't get to see  the B's 6-foot-9 blueliner often, he knows from simply watching and conversing with players throughout the NHL how good Chara is at what he does.

 "The Western side, we don't see him a whole lot," said Lidstrom. "From what I hear talking to other players, he's one of the toughest players to play against in the league."

 Chara is, as you might expect, not the only Bruin in awe of Lidstrom's illustrious career. Michigan native Steve Kampfer grew up idolizing No. 5 in red, as Lidstrom's days in the NHL began when the B's rookie blueliner was just two-year-old.

 "It makes you feel old, first of all," Lidstrom said when asked about a player nearly half his age rooting for him as a kid. "It's flattering when you hear that players looked up to you when they were growing up. It makes me proud."

 Tonight will be a tough test for the Wings, as they enter the tilt just 5-5-0 in their last ten games.

 "They're a hard-working team that we don't see too often," said Lidstrom. "We know that they're up there in the standings and they've been playing well. Their goals-against has been very solid for them, so we know it's going to be a tough opponent. It's kind of a measuring stick playing a tough team in the Eastern Conference."

 The Bruins are just one of four opponents against which the Wings captain owns a negative plus-minus rating (minus-3 in 25 games), despite the fact this his club has seemingly been a perennial powerhouse throughout his tenure in Detroit.

 Still, those measly 25 games and minus-3 rating don't carry a whole lot of weight when you look at Lidstrom's resume, which includes 1466 regular season games, 1090 points and a plus-427 rating -- good for 11th all time at the moment.

 So how does a player remain one of the best at his position for nearly 20 years?

 "First of all I think staying in shape, taking care of myself in the offseason and not having any major injuries," he said. "I think the style of play I have too; I'm not an overly-physical defenseman. I try to play my position right and be in the right spots all the time. Some luck helps too."