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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Wings hope they haven't seen the last of Lidstrom

By John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent



NASHVILLE – Now that the Detroit Red Wings' season is over, the speculation surrounding whether future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will return for next season can begin in earnest.

Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom
Defense - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 14 | +/-: 0
In what coach Mike Babcock called the Red Wings' worst performance of the series, Lidstrom, as usual, would have reason to hold his head high. In Nashville's series-clinching 2-1 win on Friday, Detroit's captain played a team-high 22:25, had one shot, one hit, one takeaway, two blocked shots and finished even -- the same rating he finished with for the series. Not bad, especially since the Red Wings scored only five goals in this series at even strength and only five Wings finished even or better. One of them was Darren Helm, who played only the first period of Game 1 before suffering a playoff-ending injury wrist.

"It's a lot of disappointment right now, especially only getting a goal each of the last couple of games," the seven-time Norris Trophy winner said after his team was eliminated in the opening round for the first time since 2006. "We had some gifts, I thought, defensively. We had some defensive breakdowns that they scored on. It's tough against a very good team like Nashville."

Lidstrom will turn 42 next Saturday. His former teammate Chris Chelios played well into his 40s, but Lidstrom will have to decide if that is what he wants to do after playing in 1,564 regular-season games and winning the Stanley Cup four times -- but finishing without a point in the five games against Nashville for the first time in 48 career playoff series.

PREDATORS VS. RED WINGS

'He's too good to quit'

By John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent
With Detroit facing elimination on Friday, coach Mike Babcock was asked once again if this could be the final game for defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. READ MORE ›

He said he'll take some time before deciding if he'll return for another season -- as has been his custom in recent years while playing on one-year contracts.

"I'm going to take a few weeks here," Lidstrom said. "I'm sure [GM] Kenny [Holland] wants to sit down and go over things as well. I'll see what he wants to do and what timetable he'll give me to make a decision."

Asked if he was leaning one way or the other, Lidstrom replied, "Not right now. Right now, it's just the disappointment of losing in the playoffs."

Lidstrom played 70 games in 2011-12 – the fewest in his career in a non-lockout shortened season – as a result of an ankle injury suffered in late February. One indication that he was still not 100 percent in the series came between Games 1 and 2 when Babcock explained that the Wings could not use Lidstrom to kill 5-on-3s. When Lidstrom turned in a certain direction, he was exposing the injured side of his ankle to potential shots; Lidstrom favored that side and refused to expose it – something that Detroit coaches picked up on quickly. As a result, the Wings had no choice but to use a different defenseman in that role.

Earlier on Friday, Babcock was adamant that Lidstrom should return. On Thursday in Detroit, Babcock had said he would be shocked if Lidstrom retired but that he had been shocked before.

"I think Nick Lidstrom retires when he thinks he's not a good player anymore, but I think he's been a pretty darn good player," Babcock said. "I don't know what could possibly be more fun than playing hockey at a high level on a great team. And I know his wife, so she doesn't want him around for sure. Why wouldn't you keep playing?"

Babcock was asked a follow-up.

"I say this every year so this is seven years for me I've answered this question," he said. "I always say the same thing: He's too good to quit."

Moments after Detroit had lost, fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg was asked if he or his teammates had thought that this might have been their final game skating alongside No. 5.

"I haven't thought about it," he said. "We just gotta hope that he gets back next year."

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game