Despite being 41, Teemu Selanne
is leading the Anaheim Ducks
in points with 18 goals and 32 assists and doesn't show any signs of slowing up despite his increasing age.
"He never has a bad day," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau
, who has now had some time to study Selanne up close after taking over on Nov. 30 as Ducks coach. "He's very receptive to when you're talking to him. He wants to play every night. He never wants to take a day off. Some nights he skates faster than others, but when he's on top of his game, he looks like he’s a 25-year old."
In that regard, Selanne is a lot like Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom
-- who's also 41 and still the Wings' top defenseman.
"I'd like to know the water they drink and what they do in the offseason," Boudreau said. "They must keep themselves in incredible shape in the offseason. Their lifestyle must be great. But if Nick is anything like Teemu, the passion for the game is got to be up there with anybody's."
Passion, Boudreau said, is the No. 1 factor that allows guys like Selanne and Lidstrom to keep going at such a high clip.
"That's a big part of hockey," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when you get older, it gets difficult to wake up in the morning and drag yourself to the rink because your bones and your body are sore every day. And I never see [Selanne] come to the rink without a smile on his face. If Nick is the same way, then it's like they've both found the Fountain of Youth. Wish they'd share it with a couple of us older guys."
Having them both play in the same game on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, facing each other once again with Detroit's 18-game home winning streak on the line, certainly gives the game an added appeal from a fan's perspective.
"[Selanne] is our leading scorer and Nick's the perennial all-star, anchor of their defense, anchor of their power play and I'd venture to guess that in the last minute of a game … if you're a Detroit Red Wing, who do you want on the ice whether you're winning or losing?" Boudreau said. "It's going to be Nick Lidstrom. They're right up there. Outside of Bobby Orr
, nobody's won as many Norris Trophies when his career is up, as Nick Lidstrom. He's going to rank in the top three defensemen all-time in this League and Teemu's going to rank in the top 10 forwards of all time. You've got two of the greatest players in the history of the game playing tonight."