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Holmstrom is a latter-day Esposito

by Phil Coffey / Detroit Red Wings
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Back in the day, Phil Esposito used to set up shop in front of the opposition net and deflect shots, screen goalies and make life incredibly miserable for the opposition.


Today, Esposito's in the Hall of Fame.

And in today's game, the Red Wings' Tomas Holmstrom is a latter-day Esposito. He proved that once again Sunday night when he deftly redirected a pair of Nicklas Lidstrom shots into the Phoenix Coyotes net in a 4-1 win, notching his 14th and 15th goals of the season.

"That's the way I score my goals," said Holmstrom, who has spent most of his career in front of the net, making life miserable for goaltenders. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they go out."

"He's just determined," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Holmstrom, who will be facing his coach in the Olympics when he suits up for Sweden. "He's going to go there. It doesn't matter what they do to him, he's going to go back there. The thing about him that makes him good is he can tip the puck, he can score."

What's Holmstrom's secret besides a high pain threshold?

"I think his hand-to-eye coordination is fantastic," Lidstrom told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. "And he's not afraid -- some guys kind of go to the side a little bit and just try to get the stick in front of the goal, but he stands right in front of the goalie and screens the goalie all the time and still is able to get sticks on pucks, whether it's on his forehand or backhand. He's been so good at it for so many years, and he's tough to move once he gets to the front of the net."

"'Homey' gets hit into boards and hit in front of net, and he just kills himself, but he tries to pass or tip the puck," Pavel Datsyuk said. "Homey (is) not good skater, but he has good balance, especially in front of net."

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