DETROIT — As Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was about to address the sparse press corps Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, he joked about how he liked “this size of room, with this many people in it,” figuring he’d have an easy round with the media on the heels of Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Chicago.
Toward the end of his longer-than-anticipated question-and-answer session, Babcock appeared to have second thoughts, saying, “The sun’s shining out there; you guys know that?”
Babcock was continually asked why his team was so lackluster in Game 5 of its Western Conference semifinal series and what it needed to do to be better in Game 6 on Monday at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings still lead the series, 3-2.
“There’s a whole bunch of things,” Babcock said. “We just have to be harder to play against — we have to skate better, we have to want the puck more, we have to execute better, we have to be quicker.
“They were quicker than us all over. Is that big enough?”
And with that final comment, Babcock was off to cop a few rays.
It wasn’t that he was testy or eager to work on his tan. Really, at this point, there just isn’t much left to say.
The Wings either play better or they’re headed back to Chicago for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday.
Most of the Wings players agreed with their coach’s assessment of what they need to do to be victorious in Game 6, and many of them were encouraged by their resiliency to bounce back in the playoffs after a poor effort.
“We’ve been finding a way to come back from playing bad and have a good game,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “In the first round, we had one bad one, one good one, one bad one, one good one, one bad one and then we finished off with two good ones.”
“We’ve just got to find a way here to come back and play good. We know we can do it. We’ve just got to play the way we want to, within our structure. When we do that, we’re better.”
KRONWALL FINE: There was concern that defenseman Niklas Kronwall might be injured after he was checked into the boards by Chicago’s Bryan Bickell during the third period Saturday.
Kronwall hardly played after the hit and appeared to favor his right side, especially his right wrist.
Babcock said Kronwall is fine and that many of his players sat during the third period.
“You get a little bumps and bruises along the way” Kronwall said of his health. “This is just part of it. You take some and you deliver some. That’s part of the game.”
ABDLEKADER FUMES: Justin Abdelkader is still fuming about Saturday. His two second-period penalties swung the tide the Blackhawks’ way, and he isn’t happy about it.
“This is the time of year where everyone is excited,” he said. “Everyone is trying to do what they can to try and help their team. You’ve definitely got to keep your emotions in check.
“Refs are looking to even things up all the time and call penalties against guys for whatever reason, so you’ve got to keep your head and play between the whistles.”
“I’ve got to be smart about that (going after Dave Bolland after he took a shot at Pavel Datsyuk). He tries to bait guys into penalties. That’s how he plays. He tries to play on the edge.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Babcock on why his team has connected so well to the Detroit fans: “We don’t always know where we’re going, but we compete real hard.”