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Red Wings praise Chara, Bergeron

2/13/2011

The Red Wings may have swept the Bruins in this weekend's home-and-home set, outscoring Boston 10-3, but that doesn't mean they don't respect the Bruins, particularly defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron.

Prior to the All-Star fantasy draft in Raleigh, N.C., two weeks ago, Chara told the media he was hoping to be drafted by Team Lidstrom so he could play with Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom in the All-Star Game. Chara has the utmost respect for Lidstrom, who is a six-time Norris Trophy winner and has won four Stanley Cups. But Chara was selected by Carolina captain Eric Staal. When notified of Chara's admiration for him, Lidstrom returned the praise.

"I think he's a very solid all-around defenseman," Lidstrom said. "He has the size to his advantage, but he's very good with the puck. He's tough to play against. He's got the good shot and the good reach, but overall he's very solid both offensively and defensively."

Lidstrom's coach, Mike Babcock shares respect for Chara, who won the Norris Trophy in 2009.

"He's the only guy in the league that can stand on the red line and gap up to your blue line," Babcock said of the 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman. "What I mean by that is he stands on the red line with his feet and his stick's on your blue line. You have to get it behind him. You've got to work him down low. He's a big man. There's no sense going body to body on him. For most of our guys, you've got to check his stick and his hands and get the puck off him that way."

Babcock also has immense respect for Bergeron, whom he has coached twice in international competition.

"I had Bergy the first time when I think he was 19 at the World Championships and he is just a great kid and he plays hard," Babcock said of Bergeron, who leads the Bruins with 45 points. "He can actually be really physical, he can play the wing, he can play center, he can play with the puck and he can play without the puck.

"He's a good man. At the Olympics he didn't end up with as big a role as he would have liked and yet he was a great teammate and important for us. He was part of a gold-medal team that won at home and I'm sure he looks at it fondly and I look at him and that experience fondly as well."