Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom may be close to achieving another milestone in his amazing hockey career. If Lidstrom continues to play at his current level and, barring no major injuries, Lidstrom could win his seventh Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman.
Such a milestone would finally place him in a class above such outstanding NHL defenseman as Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Larry Robinson, who have won almost two decades of Norris Trophy’s as the best defensemen in the NHL.
Although Lidstrom has won more Norris Trophies than the aforementioned hall of famers, there is still heated debate on how he would fare in a face-to-face showdown with the accomplished group, who all played against each other in another era.
If Lidstrom wins his seventh Norris he will be tied with Doug Harvey and one behind the legendary Bobby Orr. Lidstrom is defying odds, confounding hockey pundits and his critics throughout the NHL with consistent defensive play, as well as his offensive contributions and solid leadership. Also surprising has been the play of the Detroit Red Wings, the team that Lidstrom captains.
The Wings have been on a tear lately, sometimes overwhelming the opposition. With Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Stuart, Brian Rafalski, Jimmy Howard and role players like Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary and newcomer Mike Modano, the team has taken off fast and has so far not landed. Lidstrom has even been nicknamed (no pun intended) "The Perfect Human" by his teammates.
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With Norris trophy winner Duncan Keith, of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks, capturing the Norris and the emergence and Drew Doughty as a dominate force on the blue line for the LA Kings, most thought Lidstrom’s time as the predominant defender in the NHL had passed.
Then a strange set of events took place.
Duncan Keith came out of the gate slowly and has not played up to the previous level of his Norris and Stanley Cup winning season. Drew Doughty also did not produce the offense he had last season and then he sustained an injury, which took him out of the lineup for several games. While the two leading Norris contenders faltered, a little Nicklas Lidstrom moved into a higher gear.
It will be interesting to see if NHL journalists who vote for the best defenseman in the NHL, will take note of Lidstrom’s spirited and consistent play and reward him for his performance. “They’ve been tired of writing his name on the ballot for the Norris,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But he continues to set the standard.”
We will see as the season progresses.