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Expectations rise for Kronwall with departure of Lidstrom

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Niklas Kronwall has built quite a reputation during his career with the Detroit Red Wings as one of the most dangerous defensemen in the league.  The Swedish blue liner has been known as one of the biggest hitters in the NHL. He has a montage of some of his biggest hits on YouTube. In fact, he even lowered the boom at the IIHF World Championships in June.

The biggest thing to know is that Kronwall always knows how to deliver a hard hit without landing in Brendan Shanahan’s doghouse. He always leads with his hips or shoulders, and makes the principal point of contact an opponent’s chest, hip, or shoulder.

While he is the best at delivering clean hits, Kronwall has to step up in other areas on the blueline for the Red Wings.

Now that Nicklas Lidstrom has retired and Brad Stuart is in San Jose, Kronwall is now tasked with anchoring the blue line. Judging by his numbers, he is ready to be a top-pair defenseman.

A huge asset for Kronwall is his two-way game. Last season, he scored a career-high 15 goals in the regular season. He has also posted 37 and 36 points in the last two seasons. That is something not typical of a second-pair defenseman. For the record, Kronwall’s career high for points is 51, which he set in the 2008-09 season.

The question still remains whether Kronwall can be a leader on the ice. While he has been an associate captain since last season, he still has to help replace the leadership void left by Lidstrom. His biggest responsibility in that department will be helping projected captain Henrik Zetterberg maintain a presence in the locker room.

Kronwall’s time to shine is now. Unless the Red Wings pull off a trade between now and whenever the NHL season starts, he will be the number one defenseman for the foreseeable future. But one thing that will not change is that opposing players can still expect to get “Kronwalled” if they are not keeping their heads up.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.