SUN Hockey Pool

Red Wings facing battle just to make playoffs

Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek tries out a GoPro camera on his helmet during practice at the...

Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek tries out a GoPro camera on his helmet during practice at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday December 31, 2013. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:04 PM ET

Mike Babcock is always up for a big game on a big stage. The bigger, the better, actually.

Multiple trips to the Stanley Cup final, an Olympic gold medal game in Vancouver and one previous Winter Classic are all just part of the decorated resume of the Detroit Red Wings coach.

But if Babcock isn’t over the moon with this year’s Jan. 1 festival, it would be because the perennial excellence the Wings have shown for the past decade is starting to show some signs of wear and tear. Bothered by injuries and spotty play from his team, Babcock is facing challenges he hasn’t often been forced to deal with while in the Motor City.

One of the major reasons? The coach believes the parity that is ruling the NHL in the rigid salary-cap world is finally catching up with the Wings, who will enter Wednesday’s extravaganza tied with the Leafs at 45 points.


Videos

Photos