With the perfect human, Nicklas Lidstrom, finally hanging up his skates, it’s time for the Detroit Red Wings’s Niklas Kronwall to show they will not miss him.
To be honest, I thought Lidstrom would come back for a farewell season, but that is not the case. No spotlight will be brighter than the one shining on Niklas Kronwall now as the Wings head into a shortened season. He’s going to have to step up and be a dominant force on the blue line.
Kronwall’s showed he can lay the big hit and can snipe from time-to-time, but now he must lead that back-end and be much more consistent than he has been in years past. Kronwall is a beast and having him makes the retirement of Lidstrom just a little easier to take. He won’t be the league leader in points but being on the number one power play could help with that statistical category. By no means will his presence make us forget all about Lidstrom, but he can, in his own way, help the Wings to move on from the greatest defenseman of our time.
Kronwall is a big hitting, swift skating two-way defender who plays with more of an edge than number five. Some of his hits have really made an impact in games, like that hit on Martin Havlat in the playoffs a few years ago. Hits like that are how he is going to be the leader of the defense.
Truthfully, I don’t think anybody is expecting any single player to replace Lidstrom — that would just be stupid — but Kronwall and the rest of the Wings’ D are more than capable of the joint effort. Rounding out the defense, we’ll have Ian White — who has proven he is a dependable player, along with Kyle Quincey. Though the jury may be still out on Jonathan Ericsson, I do believe that Carlo Colaiacovo will be a solid 4-5 defenseman and the potential is definitely there for Brendan Smith to be a top level d-man in the next two-to-three years.
With those players all pulling their weight, I think Kronwall will have an easier time stepping up his game. With Henrik Zetterberg claiming the “C” and Kronwall as an assistant I think they can both fill the leadership void left by Lidstrom. Being the leader of the defense is going to be huge though. Kronwall has been calm and in control while keeping that edge and laying down the law when necessary. He’s a monster that will crush forwards like a brick wall.
The Detroit Red Wings lost the best defenseman they have ever had and he won’t ever be replaced. Kronwall is a different animal, he can hit like Scott Stevens but is smooth skating and skilled like Lidstrom. Kronwall won’t be making those oh-my-gosh plays like we came to expect from Lidstrom, but he will make plays that will garner applause. Sprinkle in those bone jarring hits and you have the new head of the D, Niklas Kronwall the time is yours.
While the season has not started as hoped for Kronwall, with four penalty minutes and no points in the first game. He followed it up with two assists in his second game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Wings’ first win of the season. All that said, the development of Kronwall is a long term project, with the hope is he will one day flourish into a top defenseman like Lidstrom.