Wings in unfamiliar spot

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 PM ET

It’s a position unfamiliar for the Detroit Red Wings.

Usually at this time, they’re home and cooled preparing for the playoffs and the inevitable long drive that traditionally ensues.

This year, however, they’re in a fight just to get into the post-season dance.

“I think the big thing for us, is that everybody know where we’re at,” said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. “The teams that are close are battling every night and it’s hard. But saying all that, you just have to keep preparing for each individual game. We’re in control right now, we don’t have to count on anyone else, we just have to play our game as hard as we can. We think we’re capable of doing it.”

Heading into Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Red Wings were a point up on the Calgary Flames for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

They have practically their entire lineup back after suffering through a slew of injuries earlier in the season.

“I think it helps going through adversity early on in the season,” said Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom. “Even now, we know we’re in desperate need of points and I think experience helps when you’re in that situation. You can still have a relaxed atmosphere in here, but when the game starts it’s very important to get points and get wins, so I think having that experience really helps.”

All that matters for the Red Wings is getting into the playoffs, where they’ll be a tough first-round opponent.

“The great thing about the playoffs is that once you get in, everybody has the same record,” Babcock said. “Whether you won 50 games or you just squeaked in, when you win Game 1 of the playoffs, you feel a lot better about yourself. We just want to get in the tournament. We feel that once we get in the tournament, we have a shot.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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