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Kronwall's week earns NHL recognition

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Kronwall helped the Red Wings pick-up four points in three games last week and was recognized as one of the NHL's top performers. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – While the Red Wings have fallen victim to injuries lately, defenseman Niklas Kronwall will be the last to make excuses in the face of adversity.

But as the Wings continue to pile up much-needed points in the Western Conference standings, Kronwall stepped up last week by collecting two goals and five assists in helping his team win two out of three games to keep pace with the St. Louis Blues atop of the Central Division.

Kronwall tied for the league-lead in scoring last week and led all NHL defensemen with seven points, earning him NHL recognized as the league’s Second Star of the Week.

“I’m not surprised,” defenseman Brad Stuart said. “He put up some good numbers and had a great week. He had 7-8 points, that’s not bad. He’s been getting a lot of good chances and putting some of them in.”

The 31-year-old Kronwall is just the second Wings’ player so honored by the league this season. Goalie Jimmy Howard was the Second Star on Nov. 14.

Also recognized by the league this week were Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, who is this week's First Star, and Chicago goalie Ray Emery, who was named Third Star.

Kronwall has supplied a must-need spark to a Wings’ blue line that has come under siege lately with three defensemen bitten by injuries.
“Kronner is a guy who will take on responsibility when guys go down and will look to be more of a leader,” Stuart said. “I don’t know if that has anything to do with his hot streak, but he’s definitely that type of player who will step-up when he’s needed.”

Kronwall provided Detroit with offense from the blue line in the absence of injured captain and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom (bruise ankle), beginning with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win at Columbus last Tuesday.

Kronwall had his second consecutive three-point game – the first back-to-back three-point games of his career – with three assists in a 6-0 victory against Minnesota last Friday at Joe Louis Arena. He then accounted for Detroit’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago on Sunday.

While he had an outstanding offensive week, Kronwall is quick to deflect the attention that a league honor draws to that of his teammates.

“I think you do whatever you can out there to help the team in whatever situation that might be, and the points that I’ve been getting is more a credit to the guys up front who have been doing a great job,” he said. “A lot of them have come from just giving it to someone in our own zone and then they do the rest.”

Kronwall’s goal against the Blackhawks was No. 40 scored by a Wings’ defensemen this season, which leads the league for defensive scoring.

His seven-points equals a career-best three game stretch, which he first established in the 2009-10 season when he had three goals and four assists in wins over Columbus, Vancouver and Anaheim during a four day period.

The Swedish-born defenseman has reached career-highs this season for goals (14), power-play goals (6) and game-winning goals (4), in 66 games. He’s also registered a personal-best 146 blocked shots, which leads the team and is third most in the Western Conference.

“It’s obviously nice to be recognized, but at the same time we all feel in here that it’s a team game, and it just happened to be me this time,” Kronwall said. “I’ve been able to give the puck to the right guys at the right time of the game a few times and they have been doing the rest of the job, so I’d like to give them more credit than I deserve really.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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