Detroit's Ericsson is making his mark alongside Lidstrom

The SportsXchange

Might Detroit Red Wings captain and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom have a new defense partner in the playoffs? Coach Mike Babcock is considering it.

Babcock likes what he has seen of 6-foot-4, 221-pound Jonathan Ericsson while paired with Lidstrom the past two games, including Wednesday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Blues in St. Louis.

However, Babcock hasn't decided whether to make it a permanent move or put Ian White back with Lidstrom.

"It's not a decision that's necessarily long-term," Babcock said. "When I started the year, that's where I thought (Ericsson) was going to play. I didn't know Ian White was this good. So what happened is Whitey and Nick got playing so good, and I never got to it (putting Ericsson with Lidstrom)."

Being paired with Lidstrom has helped numerous players over the years, including Larry Murphy, Mathieu Schneider, Fredrik Olausson, Danny Markov, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and White.

Babcock said playing with a good-sized partner can help Lidstrom, too.

"We think E's really come on," Babcock said. "I think the appreciation for Jonathan Ericsson went through the roof when (he was injured recently). When Big E wasn't there (he missed 13 games with a broken wrist), our penalty killing wasn't even close. Since he's got back, we seem to be back on track."

Babcock said he believes Ericsson has taken a step forward in his career. He will have another chance to play alongside Lidstrom on Thursday against New Jersey at Joe Louis Arena.
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