Superstar Swedes Zetterberg & Lidstrom lift Red Wings to Cup Print
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Wednesday, 04 June 2008 22:41
NHL Headline News

 PITTSBURGH (AP) -Captain Nicklas Lidstrom had the privilege of being the first Detroit Red Wing to hoist the Stanley Cup.
It also allowed him to lug the 35-pound trophy wherever he wanted.
``It's heavy, but I don't mind it at all,'' Lidstrom said as he walked away from a news conference gripping the NHL's towering symbol of excellence. ``It's a great problem to have.''
Indeed.
Henrik Zetterberg also earned the right to tote a trophy, scoring the Cup-winning goal and adding an assist to lift Detroit to a 3-2 win Wednesday night over the Pittsburgh Penguins and seal the Conn Smythe Trophy.
It was quite a night for the Swedish superstars.
Lidstrom became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup and Zetterberg joined Lidstrom as the only European to be named playoffs MVP.
``It's special to be on there,'' Zetterberg said as he looked at his trophy. ``Especially, to be among such great players and especially with Nick. It's great to have that with him.''
The Red Wings are Stanley Cup champions because they excel at both ends of the rink.
None of them does it better than Zetterberg, whose two-way play earned him rave reviews.
He is reminding a lot of people of the player Steve Yzerman became when Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman helped the retired Red Wings great become a two-way player.
``Usually it's the other way around, but his defense came first and his offense followed,'' Bowman said.
Yzerman, who now works in Detroit's front office, said the organization can't take credit for the all-around game Zetterberg has had since being drafted with the 210th overall pick in 1999.
``Hank's willingness to backcheck was there from the day we got him,'' Yzerman said.
Zetterberg might've won the Conn Smythe even if he didn't help offensively in Game 6, but he locked it up with his two-point night.
``He certainly deserved it,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ``There's no doubt he was an important player for that group.''
Zetterberg finished the playoffs with 27 points, matching Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the top spot. Zetterberg had 13 goals, tying teammate Johan Franzen for the league lead.
His series-winning goal at 7:36 of the third was short on style, but long on substance.
The shot trickled through Marc-Andre Fleury's pads and after stalling in the crease, the puck went in off the goalie's backside. Zetterberg assisted on Brian Rafalski's goal that put Detroit ahead 1-0 five minutes into the game.
But Zetterberg's biggest contribution in the playoffs might've come at the defensive end when he locked down Crosby's stick at the side of the net to prevent him from scoring during Pittsburgh's critical 5-on-3 power play late in the 3-2 win in Game 4.
That win put Detroit ahead 3-1 in the series, a cushion it needed because it lost Game 5 in triple overtime.
Zetterberg also helped kill a 5-on-3 advantage the Penguins had in the series-ending game, keeping them scoreless in the first period.
``It was huge,'' he said.
The victory gave Lidstrom his fourth Stanley Cup in five chances. He also won titles in 1997, '98 and 2002 after losing his first shot at a championship in 1995.
``It felt great to be the first guy to touch the Cup on our team,'' Lidstrom said. ``But it felt a lot like the other ones. I'm very proud of being the first European and of being the captain of the Red Wings.''
Yzerman was the Red Wings' captain for the other victories.
Lidstrom is expected to add to his exquisite resume this summer with a sixth Norris Trophy, a total that would break a tie with Ray Bourque and trail only Bobby Orr's eight and Doug Harvey's seven awards as the NHL's best defenseman.
Despite that, Lidstrom seems to be an unheralded superstar.
Bowman, though, said no one should feel sorry for the lack of hype Lidstrom generates.
``He's got a lot of titles and trophies,'' said Bowman, who works for the Red Wings as a consultant and coached Lidstrom before retiring in 2002.
The 6-foot-1, 189-pound Lidstrom beats teams with his intelligence and instincts, a wicked combination that puts him in the right place to make a play or prevent one.
Lidstrom broke Yzerman's team records this year by playing in his 16th straight postseason and his 197th playoff game. He later played in his 201st playoff game, surpassing Jari Kurri's NHL mark among European players.
The 38-year-old Lidstrom had 13 points and his plus-minus rating was among the league leaders in the playoffs. He led all defensemen during the regular season with 70 points and a plus-40 rating.
``Nicklas Lidstrom, in my opinion, is a phenomenal leader and captain with his poise and his skill,'' Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
 

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