April 16, 2012
Breaks aren't going Wings' way
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI AGENCY
DETROIT - The usual dissection of an NHL playoff series was in progress.
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was answering questions Monday about everything from discipline to lack of scoring to physical play to who was going to play with whom.
Midway through a question he stopped paused and said "just win."
The Red Wings need to win Tuesday in Detroit to get back into their series with the Nashville Predators. They trail the Preds 2-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal.
A loss and they go back to Nashville facing elimination.
As Babcock continued his dissection of the series, it was mentioned that the Red Wings' past 10 playoff losses were all by one goal.
It led to an impressive Babcock soliloquy that served as a synopsis of how this series has gone.
"It means we've lost the last 10 by one goal," he said. When the response brought laughter he went on.
"Let me try something else. We'd like to score more. We give up too many goals.
Then, in reference to the high-scoring Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series, Babcock said: "There aren't many series when you have to score a touchdown to win. Most are tight. You have to find ways for everyone to contribute. The game we won, our fourth line got two goals.
"On Sunday, we scored a power-play goal but the period had ended. (Pavel) Datsyuk breaks his stick and can't clear and they score. That's how fine a line it is. What shift is going to change the game?"
This series certainly hasn't gone the Wings' way, including Shea Weber's head slam on Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Darren Helm's season-ending arm injury.
"I can tell you, the year we won (2008), we don't remember any of that crap," Babcock said. "We don't remember that we won 10 one-goal games. We just remember winning. Last year, someone told me we lost three times to San Jose in overtime. When the Montreal Canadiens won the Cup (in 1993), someone told me they won 11 times in overtime or something like that (actually 10) ... Just win."
A great deal of the focus during the playoffs has been on the physical aspect. Even though the trend may well have started when Weber slammed Zetterberg's noggin into the glass at the end of Game 1, the Wings-Predators series hasn't been as vicious of some of the others.
Wings defenceman Kyle Quincey said the series hasn't been too nasty.
"Other than the head smash," he said.
But he said all the series have a bite to them, making for entertaining hockey.
The Red Wings, usually a disciplined team, have 20 minor penalties in three games. Quincey said the referees aren't giving the players much leeway on infractions.
"(The officials) set the standard ... and you have to tone it down," he said. "You have to be cautious. You have to maintain your emotions.
"It changes the way you play. We had a meeting (Monday) and one of the points was that we had to stay out of the box."
That is now even more important with Helm and Patrick Eaves, the Wings' best penalty killers, both injured. More responsibility now falls on Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, whom Babcock would rather see "shooting the puck in the net than keeping it out."
"It takes a ton of energy to kill penalties," Babcock said. "(During the second period Sunday) I thought the slashing penalty on (Johan) Franzen was weak and the cross-check on Quincey was weak to put us (two men short).
"But I didn't handle it very well emotionally. When I looked at the tape those penalties are both penalties. Stay out of the box, it's simple."
Nick Lidstrom says the Wings have to stay out of the box.
"We've taken way too many penalties and when you do that, whether they score on you or not, it takes a lot out of your defencemen and forwards," he said. "Penalties also slow you down because you can't get your lines rolling and you can't get a good start."
By the way things have gone so far, not a very good finish either.