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|21 ноября 2006
Smooth Lidstrom, tough Markov make a match // Detroit Free Press
We're two days from one of the greatest U.S. eating holidays, and it turns out that among the Red Wings, the top chef is Swede Niklas Kronwall. Most Wings polled (besides Swedes, the group included Canadians, Russians, Czechs and, as a matter of fact, an American) said their culinary contributions are limited to oatmeal and barbecuing (not at the same time, though). But like the great utensil-throwing Swedish Chef Muppet and his famous exclamations of "B?rk! B?rk! B?rk!", Kronwall has a touch in the kitchen, for Henrik Zetterberg said Kronwall makes an outstanding meat sauce for pasta.
What's his secret? "I buy some ground beef, some onions, red pepper, mushrooms, tomato paste," Kronwall said. "It's getting pretty well known in the Novi area. People who have had it say it's very good."
Kris Draper is a meat and potatoes guy, literally: "On Thanksgiving, I'll be in charge of the potatoes," he said. "Boil them; mash them -- homemade mashed potatoes made from scratch. And I carve the turkey."
Surprisingly, the team's sole restaurateur won't be lifting a finger Thursday: "Thanksgiving," Chris Chelios said, "is a woman's cooking day."
HELENE ST. JAMES
Nearly a quarter of the way into the NHL season, opponents have found out just how difficult it is to play against Nicklas Lidstrom and Danny Markov.
The Red Wings defensemen ranked first and tied for third overall in the league in plus-minus rating, respectively, through Sunday, a significant accomplishment for players who are always out against the other team's top stars.
Despite sharing the ice with luminaries like Markus Naslund, Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Smyth and others, Lidstrom has had a minus rating in only three of 19 games; all three times, it was a minus-1. Markov has finished with a minus-1 twice. Overall, Lidstrom is a plus-21, Markov is a plus-12.
"They've been a real good pair for us," general manager Ken Holland said. "Five-on-five, they don't give up a lot. Danny has brought some intangibles to that pairing that maybe Nick didn't have in the past. I think they've generated real good chemistry because Danny's a real good defensive defenseman and I think at the same time, he's abrasive, so he gives that tandem an extra added dimension."
Holland signed Markov last summer to ameliorate the loss of Jiri Fischer, whose career has been sidelined by a heart condition. After experimenting with pairings throughout the exhibition season, coach Mike Babcock decided to pair Lidstrom and Markov.
"He just brings a physical presence and has been excellent for us on the penalty kill," Babcock said of Markov. "He's a physical guy with a lot of bite in his game, and those things are contagious. We think he's a real good addition. Nick Lidstrom tells me he loves playing with him, so that's a positive thing."
Over the past few years, the Wings' plans to pair Lidstrom with another top-four defenseman have gone awry: Last season Niklas Kronwall got hurt in training camp, and in 2003-04, Derian Hatcher missed all but 15 games with an injury.
With Markov, things are finally going according to plan, and Lidstrom is relishing the veteran's presence.
"He's been around for a while, so we can read off one another and I can jump up in the play," Lidstrom said. "Whereas with some younger, not as experienced players, you tend to maybe sit back a little bit more and try to help them out a little bit more."
Markov's arrival has allowed the Wings to rely less on Lidstrom. Lately, because Kronwall has been out, Lidstrom's minutes have crept back up, but at the start of the season Lidstrom's minutes were closer to 25 a game than 30. There have even been times when he hasn't started a penalty kill, much less stayed out the entire two minutes.
"I think it helps when you're a little bit more rested, especially when you're out there killing penalties, it's tough when you get off the ice to be a part of the offense, too," Lidstrom said.
The two complement each other with their differences. Markov, 30, plays bigger than his slender 6-foot-1 frame; last month, for example, he delivered a crushing open-ice hit on Edmonton's Ethan Moreau, who is 6-2, 220 pounds. Moreau, who hasn't played since, coughed up the puck on the hit, and the play led to a goal for the Wings.
"He's just, like, kind of reckless out there, he never gives up on the puck," left wing Henrik Zetterberg said of Markov.
Markov is so dependable in his own zone, it enables Lidstrom to focus on carrying the puck and making outlet passes. Lidstrom leads the team with 13 assists and 16 points.
"Danny's been a good partner," Lidstrom said. "He is more of a physical presence out there. He stays back a little more than I do; I try to join the rush a little more. It's been a good mix for us."
Lidstrom, 36, is a four-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenseman. Like others before him, Markov is relishing playing with the Red Wings' captain.
"Nick is the one of the best defensemen in the world, so for me, I'm very happy, you know what I mean?" Markov said. "He's a high-level defenseman because he plays good in offensive end, good in defensive end, good position game -- it's very easy to play with him."
Opponents, though, have found it's very hard to play against the two.