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Wings' enjoy an embarrassment of riches on power play

by Dan Rosen / Detroit Red Wings
When Marian Hossa stunned the hockey world by signing a one-year contract with the Red Wings, captain Nicklas Lidstrom wasn't alone in thinking the team's power play would undoubtedly improve with No. 81 joining the mix.

Lidstrom had no idea it could be this good.

Through their first 21 games, the Red Wings scored 28 power-play goals and were clicking 31.8 percent of the time. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team since the 1978-79 New York Islanders (31.2 percent) has finished the season better than 30 percent on the power play.

The Red Wings were on pace to score roughly 109 power-play goals this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins hold the NHL season record with 119, but they set it in 1988-89 when the schedule called for only 80 games.

"After we signed Hossa and with the players we have up front, you could see the competition of being on the power play," Lidstrom told "We have two groups and you can't say one is No. 1 and one is No. 2. We create competition between the two. You have to play well just to be out there and that adds to being sharper on the power play."
Until Tomas Holmstrom's back injury, the so-called "first unit" was made up of Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk and Holmstrom up front with Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on the points. Without Holmstrom, who is out at least two more weeks, Tomas Kopecky has joined the mix and has played well.

"The second unit" - if you can call it that - stayed intact. It includes Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler playing up front with Mikael Samuelson and Niklas Kronwall on the points.

All 11 players we just mentioned have at least one power-play goal. Holmstrom and Zetterberg each had five before Friday's game against Columbus.

"We had some great power plays in the '90s with Sergei (Fedorov), (Brendan) Shanahan, (Stevie) Yzerman and Brett Hull," Lidstrom said. "We had some solid offensive weapons, but this ranks right up there with the guys we had in the past."

He said it - "We always have Red Wing fans come to Chicago to watch us play. It used to be hard to get ticket here in Detroit so you saw a lot of fans from Detroit coming to watch the games in Chicago because it's not that far. Now the intensity is higher than maybe even last year. You can feel that excitement in the building. The fans are intense. You see (Detroit fans) in warm-ups still, but you don't hear them as much. It's fun to play in that arena."  -- Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom talking about the excitement building in Chicago and especially the United Center

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