Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 11/30/11

EDMONTON - May 1: A dejected Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings talks to the media in the locker room after being eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 1, 2006 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Edmonton defeated Detroit 4-3 to win the series 4-2. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
TROY, Mich. -- It's still a little odd to hear Steve Yzerman talk about the Detroit Red Wings as "them" instead of "us." But that's the reality of the situation as the longtime former Wings captain is now known as the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager, a position he's held for more than a year and a half. Yzerman was at the Troy Sports Center to watch his Lightning practice Tuesday afternoon before Wednesday night's game at Joe Louis Arena. Yzerman, 46, had a nice tan and said he's started something new to stay in shape. "I have (knee) issues and am limited to some things, Yzerman said. "I exercise. Took up running to stay in stay in reasonable fitness, but in general I feel pretty good." Yzerman is hoping he feels even better after the Lightning play the Wings in the teams' only meeting of the season. "Im looking at it as I still think the Red Wings are one of the best teams in the league, in both conferences," Yzerman said. "Its an opportunity for ourselves. We consider ourselves in a battle for a playoff spot, and right now were on the outside looking in. "Its an opportunity to assess our team against one of the better teams in the league and some of the best players in the league." The Lightning (11-10-2) are 10th in the Eastern Conference but are just one point behind the eighth-place Washington Capitals. As he was as a player, Yzerman is always looking for his team to improve. "Weve been up and down," Yzerman said. "Weve played some very good games. We had a home-and-home against Florida and we were very pleased with our play. We did a lot of good things in Minnesota the other night, but we didnt win. "Were not there in all parts of our game. Were working on getting better in all departments. There are a lot of things were pleased with, but we recognize we have to get a lot better in a lot of areas." Like many teams, the Lightning have been better at home (7-3-0) than they have on the road (4-7-2). They're 5-5-0 in their last 10 games. Although the Lightning reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season before succumbing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, Yzerman is not ready to call his team an elite one. "There are a handful of elite teams, and I consider us in the mix with a lot of good teams," Yzerman said. "Theres not much difference I see between probably 20 teams in this league. There are probably four at the top, and were in the mix with the rest. "We want to take a step forward. We want to be a consistent winner at home and on the road. Thats the challenge we face." Yzerman does consider his former team to be among the league's elite. "Theyve got a half dozen of the best players in the league," Yzerman said. "Nick Lidstrom is still the best defenseman in the NHL, and Pavel (Datsyuk) is still one of the top two-three forwards in the game. "They have an excellent team and (are) extremely well-coached. Every team has needs, but theyre an elite team without question." Although Yzerman is busy in Tampa, he's a regular visitor to Detroit because his family has remains here. There's no doubt that Yzerman will get a hero's welcome when he appears at the game, but he doesn't expect to get emotional because of that. "Depends on what the score is. It could be very emotional," Yzerman said, laughing. "Were trying to get points. Were trying to hang in the playoff race. "Im just looking for points, preferably two."
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