SAN JOSE - Mike Babcock was still sour Saturday.
After dropping a 2-1 OT decision to the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western semi-final, the Detroit coach challenged the Red Wings to improve in Game 2 Sunday or they’ll head back to Motor City in a 2-0 series deficit.
While Babcock wouldn’t guarantee he’d make any changes for the 3 p.m. EST start at the HP Pavilion, he sent a strong message to his players that they shouldn’t let the margin on the scoreboard Friday fool them.
“I thought the score flattered us,” said Babcock after an optional skate.
The Sharks are also trying to put pressure on the Wings.
“Underdog or whatever term you want to use,” said Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan. “We all read clips. We say we don’t but we do and there’s not very many people picking us to win the series. That may work in favour as well. It takes pressure off of us and puts a lot more on them.”
While the Wings were hopeful they could overcome a nine-day layoff after eliminating the Phoenix Coyotes in a sweep, the club was outshot 46-25 by the Sharks and Detroit didn’t test San Jose goalie Antti Niemi enough.
Babcock wasn’t going to let the Wings off the hook. He’s been around long enough to know when he needs to send his team a wakeup call which is why he heaped praise on goalie Jimmy Howard and the club’s defenceman.
Babcock saved his criticism for the guys up front.
“We’ve got to skate first,” said Babcock. “We can’t do anything unless we get skating. I thought we weren’t going to skate in the first 10 minutes and we’d get better as the game went on. I didn’t think we did.
“They skated way better than we did. We looked like a team that had been off for a long time. We did what we could to try to get going, but we weren’t going. If you’re not skating, that team is going to spend a lot of time in your zone. Our defence were fantastic, our goalie was good.”
Even the Sharks recognized they didn’t get Detroit’s best.
“I just expect them to be much better. I don’t know how they’re going to change things,” said Sharks’ defenceman Dan Boyle. “They had some players who were on top of their game, but I just don’t think they had everybody.”
The biggest surprise: The Wings didn’t play with discipline and allowed San Jose six powerplays. Joe Pavelski tied in the third with the man advantage and Benn Ferriero’s winner came just after a double-minor.
The Wings said the calls can be confusing.
“If you watch other games it can be hard at times to see where to the draw the line,” said Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall. “Some penalties are penalties some games and they’re not the next shift. That’s no excuse, we didn’t play well enough to come out (with the win).”
Babcock said the Wings weren’t going to win them all.
“I’ve been in this while. It’s Game 1. We would have liked to have gone 16-0 but reasonably speaking that probably wasn’t going to happen,” said Babcock. “But when your goalie plays like he did and your ‘D’ are hanging in there, you’ve got hope. I’m not big into hoping. I like knowing. We’ve got to play a little better.”
Now, the Sharks and Wings must prepare for Round 2 on NBC in the United States at noon local time.
“I don’t like it. I’ll be honest,” Boyle said. “I don’t like noon games at all. I haven’t quite figured out what the routine’s going to be. Although I don’t like it, I’m sure I’ll be ready to go come game time.”