Simply the best?
Coach Mike Babcock mentioned to as many Boston reporters as would listen that he considers Lidstrom to be the best player in the league. Henrik Zetterberg has said that he considers Lidstrom to be the best of the best. Ken Holland, Jim Nill and others are on record that Lidstrom should definitely be in the MVP mix.
(POST MONDAY PRACTICE UPDATE ... Babcock on Lidstrom: "the Hart Trophy winner. I don't know if people know that, but he should be."
Whether it's planned or not, it's a smart thing by the organization to push for a single candidate. Across the league, Zetterberg will draw support for post-season honors. So will Pavel Datsyuk.
It would be easy to see a scenario where the Red Wings dominate the regular-season standings and their top three players all receive significant MVP consideration. That would mean that none of the three would win.
I've seen it at every level from high school up to pros, if a team has two or three excellent players, voters want to be directed to one. By season's end, the hockey writers should know that Lidstrom is the Red Wings' leading MVP candidate. And that should help his chances significantly.
There are other factors working against Lidstrom. Only two defensemen have won the MVP in the past 50 years -- Bobby Orr and Chris Pronger. There's the age factor, meaning that voters have a hard time figuring that a player who wasn't an MVP finalist at 28 or 30 is one at 37. There's the steady play opposed to highlight-reel performances.
But if Lidstrom continues to lead the NHL in defense scoring and plus-minus and if the Red Wings continue to dominate, he has to be one of the three finalists for the hart Trophy.