Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 5/21/13
DETROIT -- It seems like just yesterday when Jonathan Ericsson was the young defenseman arriving on the scene and making an impact for the Detroit Red Wings. In the Wings' 2009 playoff run, Ericsson stunned everyone with his four goals and four assists in the 22 games, and by playing three days after an emergency appendectomy. He had played just 19 regular-season games. Now 29, Ericsson is part of the Wings' top defensive pairing, along with fellow Swede Niklas Kronwall. When Nick Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart left to return to San Jose, it meant a bigger role for Ericsson. "They always had a good D corps here, so it just took a while to get in," Ericsson said. "Thats how they develop all the players here, and I think theyve done a good job. "When you get up here, most players are ready to stay up and not be up and down. You have to be patient. Everything doesnt come all at once. You just have to work your way in." Jakub Kindl, who has also stepped up on defense this season, is impressed with what Ericsson has done. "You just fill the hole," Kindl said. "Nick is gone, and boom, the next thing you know, you put Big E in the top pair and look what hes done. "Hes been unbelievable. Hes progressing and getting better every year. Hes only 29 years old, and Im sure hes going to have a huge career here." Ericsson can relate to much of the criticism rookie defenseman Brendan Smith is going through this season because Ericsson went through it himself. After the outstanding playoff run in 2009, Ericsson had just four goals and nine assists and was a minus-15 in 62 games in 2009-10. Since then, Ericsson has elevated his play each year, finishing with one goal and 10 assists and a plus-16 in 69 games in 2011-12. In this lockout-shortened season, Ericsson had three goals and 10 assists and was a plus-6 in 45 games. In the playoffs, he has three assists and is plus-3. "Youre always going to have ups and downs throughout your career," Ericsson said. "You dont want to take anything back because you learn a lot from that. You learn about yourself and how to handle all situations, and that helped me now. "Thats a process you need to learn, unless youre Nick Lidstrom and dont do anything wrong. Everyone else is going to make mistakes, and you just have to learn from it." Although Ericsson said he enjoys every aspect of the game, there's something that he particularly likes. "I take a lot of pride in being on the penalty kill," Ericsson said. "I want to make a difference, and I want to be a guy that they count on when were up with a few minutes to go in the game. "I want to be an important guy for the team. Thats what I value the most." Ericsson might have thought better of that answer after Monday night. In their 3-1 victory over the Blackhawks, he, Kronwall, Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves got stuck on the ice for an entire two-minute penalty kill and then longer when they couldn't clear the puck out of the zone. Ericsson and Miller were out the longest, a full 3 minutes, 15 seconds. "Three minutes? That must have been some sort of record," Ericsson said. "I was kind of standing still there in front of the net for a little while, so I was able to catch some big breaths there. I wasnt as tired after three minutes as I was after two, I think." So far this postseason Ericsson hasn't taken any penalties of his own. "I havent got any penalties? Thats probably going to jinx me," Ericsson said. "You know that every team right now is good on the power play, and we really cant afford to be in the box too much." After injuries and poor play plagued the Wings on defense for much of the season, they finally settled on Ericsson and Kronwall together as the top pair. Ericsson is fine with that and considers Kronwall as close to Lidstrom as one can possibly get. "Thats why we call him Nick junior," Ericsson said. "Hes our best defenseman by far. Hes always doing a good job for us every night. He makes it easy for me. "We have a good way of communicating out there, and we feed off each other. He makes things more comfortable for me out there." That comfort level continues off the ice, too. Ericsson and Kronwall live close to each other and commute to the Joe together, just like Lidstrom once did with Tomas Holmstrom. Ericsson and Kronwall also got a kick out of watching their brothers compete for Team Sweden in the world championships. Kronwall's brother, Staffan, is a defenseman and captained the team to a gold-medal win over Switzerland. Ericsson's brother, Jimmie, is a forward. "Thats pretty special," Ericsson said. "I was streaming the game on my computer and hooked it up to my TV. "Of course, its special to have your brother play, and I know Kronner feels the same way. Its pretty cool that were pretty close and to have our brothers win together." Now Ericsson and Kronwall would like to return the favor and have Jimmie and Staffan watch them keep winning in the Stanley Cup playoffs. "We know weve been really close to Chicago many times during the regular season, and were playing better now," Kronwall said. "So why wouldnt we be able to beat them? "You have to trust yourself and believe in yourself, and I think we do."
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

White Sox fan wears a fantastic taped-up Chris Sale jersey

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance

Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery


Eagles want Carson Wentz to be 'starter ready' Week 1

Report: 49ers concerned Anthony Davis will quit again

Did Manning hurt NFLPA's case in HGH investigations?

Report: Steinbrenner won't allow fire sale, wants to make playoffs

Report: Dion Waiters agrees to one-year deal with Heat

Report: Junior Galette out for season with torn Achilles

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

Kevin Durant’s OKC restaurant will be closed, rebranded

Lamar Odom said to be held back by one 'toxic friend'

Mario Balotelli crashes Liverpool fans' wedding

Michael Vick: I used to feel I was 'dominating too much'

WATCH: Astros, Rangers minor leaguers get into brawl

A too early preview of UEFA World Cup 2018 qualifying

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker