Detroit Red Wings: How Badly Will the Team Miss Having Nicklas Lidstrom in 2013?

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Detroit Red Wings: How Badly Will the Team Miss Having Nicklas Lidstrom in 2013?
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nicklas Lidstrom is one of the greatest defenseman to play the game.

The Detroit Red Wings dominated the NHL throughout Lidstrom's career, never missing the playoffs while he played in Detroit.

But the "Nick Lidstrom era" ended last year after the Red Wings' first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators.

Who would "take over" and "fill the shoes" of one Lidstrom?

Could anybody fill his shoes?

The simple answer of course, is "no."

But how badly will the Red Wings miss having Nick Lidstrom this season?

Well, without looking at off-ice leadership and only looking at on-ice play, one might find the answer to how much the Red Wings will miss Lidstrom by simply looking at the Red Wings' defense.

 

Defense

Through five games played, the Red Wings have allowed 16 goals; just over three goals per game. Six of those goals came in the season-opening blowout/shutout in St. Louis.

The team just has not been able to fill the small things that Lidstrom does: the poke check, the stick lift at the exact right moment, putting sticks on pucks.

(If anybody has seen Kyle Quincey play this season, this "putting sticks on pucks" idea rings loud and clear.)

The Red Wings have covered up well as a team defensively, holding their opponents to nine goals in four games since the disaster on opening night, but there is still no clear cut No. 2 defenseman to play with Niklas Kronwall.

Defensively, the Red Wings miss Lidstrom a lot; no one else can do what he does (or did) defensively every night.

 

Offense

The Red Wings would have far fewer problems than they do now if the team only missed Lidstrom's presence defensively.

But Lidstrom was more than defense.

He was near-instant offense. If not "instant" offense, Lidstrom could work the puck around until he found his opening and struck.

It wasn't that Lidstrom was some massive threat offensively, but again, it was the little things he did far better than anyone else.

The bounce shot-pass off of the back of the boards at Joe Louis Arena to a player on the other side of the net who had an easy tap-in goal.

The ability to hit a spot outside of the net so Tomas Holmstrom could tip it back towards the net.

The walking the puck along the blue line that he did so very well.

With just 11 goals in five games, the Red Wings miss Lidstrom's offense and poise on the blue line more than words can describe.

With just 43 games remaining in the season, the Red Wings making the playoffs for the 22nd straight season is far from sure.

 

Special Teams

Special teams might be the most noticeable void in terms of Lidstrom not playing this season.

Lidstrom had 76 power-play points over his final three seasons.

He was the quarterback of the Red Wings' power play.

The last three seasons, the Red Wings power play was at 19.2 percent, 22.3 percent and 16.1 percent respectively.

This season, the Red Wings (albeit through five games) are at 7.7 percent.

Same deal with the penalty kill over the last three seasons at 83.9 percent, 82.3 percent and 81.8 percent with Lidstrom.

This season (albeit through five games again), the penalty kill is at 68.0 percent.

 

Conclusion

Numbers don't tell the whole story usually.

But in the case of how much will the Red Wings miss Nick Lidstrom, numbers tell a significant part of the story.

Numbers are irrelevant when a player on your team gets the nickname "the perfect human."

Although Lidstrom was far from perfect in his playing days, his mental preparation and anticipation of plays combined with his excellence on offense, defense and special teams has left the Red Wings with a void—the size of which no other hockey team has seen over the last decade.

How much will the Red Wings miss Nicklas Lidstrom this season?

The numbers speak for themselves.

More than words can describe.

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