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Lidstrom paired with White once more for Red Wings

by Brian Hedger /
DETROIT -- It happened during Game 3 Sunday of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock put 41-year-old star captain Nicklas Lidstrom back together with Ian White as the Wings' top defense pair, which had been the case for most of the season. After Lidstrom was injured blocking a shot and missed 11 games in March, White was forced to work with others on the blue line and wasn't a shoe-in to work with Lidstrom after he returned.

In fact, Babcock had been using the bigger Jonathan Ericsson with Lidstrom as the top pair after he also returned from a lengthy injury. That changed mid-game Sunday, though, with White taking the right point beside Lidstrom on the left once again -- which also was how they lined up during Monday's practice at Joe Louis Arena.

Babcock, however, cautioned against trying to predict how his lineup will look before or during the game.

"We like Ericsson and Lidstrom together on match-ups, too," Babcock said. "When we need the puck moved a little crisper … we thought [White] was having a good game."

Prior to Lidstrom's injury, he and White had plus/minus ratings in the upper 20s and were sitting near the top of the League in that stat.

In other apparent lineup switches Monday, veteran Danny Cleary worked as a top-six forward with star center Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen on the second line. That moved Todd Bertuzzi to the third line at right wing to work with center Justin Abdelkader and rookie Gustav Nyquist.

"All these questions you're asking about -- who's playing with who -- I'm going to go to the game and I'm going to watch, and whoever plays the best is going to play the most," Babcock said. "It doesn't matter to me what their name is.''
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