Red Wings are upbeat, confident despite loss to Bruins
DETROIT — If you expected the Red Wings to search for answers after their 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday, you were wrong.
Despite being manhandled by the Bruins, the Wings were upbeat and confident after Monday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.
"I’ve been here nine years and we’ve done this nine times, and you go through it each and every year," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "One team adjusts, the other team adjusts, and you just keep going.
"For our team to be effective, we have to do exactly what we do. If we want to have a scrum after every whistle and get into a cross-checking matchup after every whistle, I assume they’re (the officials) not letting you run people anymore. They probably got that figured out after yesterday.
"Little things like that, I assume those things will be cleaned up."
Babcock implied that he thought the officials let things go during Sunday’s game, which frustrated the Wings. Their game is to play in between whistles, but there was too much "play" after the whistle.
It’s imperative that the Wings get back to their speed game and regain their composure for Tuesday’s Game 3 at The Joe.
"You want to play tough and hard between the whistles," Wings defenseman Brendan Smith said. "After the whistles, we’d like the refs to take a little more control.
"Where you score is between the whistles, and that’s what we need to focus on. All this stuff after the whistles doesn’t mean anything to us."
Each Red Wings player stressed the need to play a smarter, more-controlled game.
According to forward Justin Abdelkader, the Wings also need better work from their specialty teams.
"Our penalty kill and our power play got to be better because 5-on-5 there’s not going to be much between the two teams," Abdelkader said. "Both teams play with really good structure, so specialty teams got to be good this time of year.
"It’s critical, so we’ll look to correct a few things there and shore up something 5-on-5 to make sure we’re doing everything right."
Perhaps the lasting image of Sunday’s game is the "altercation" between Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith and Boston’s Zdeno Chara.
The pair squared off during a second-period scrum, where — thankfully for Smith — no punches were landed. The tussle was really just Chara taunting Smith, who became agitated before the officials intervened.
Chara is a behemoth — 6 feet, 9 inches tall and 255 pounds — while Smith comes in at 6-2, 198 pounds. It would have been a gross mismatch.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock offered this interesting take of the incident.
"I thought he (Smith) made a good decision (not to fight)," Babcock said. "I don’t know why he’d go toe-to toe-with him (Chara). The way I look at it, if you’re a really good speaker, then you should find employment speaking. If you’re a really good fighter, you should find employment fighting.
"So you walk into the bar and there’s this beautiful young gal standing next to this 6-foot-5 monster who you know makes his living fighting for a living, and you’re the best pool player in the bar. Are you going to play pool or are you going to fight?
"Figure it out. It seems simple to me. I don’t know if that’s an analogy that works for you or not."
Detroit’s leading goal scorer, Gustav Nyquist, has been held without a point during the first two games of the series against the Bruins.
Nyquist, who had 28 goals during the regular season, has been unable to find his offensive game against a Boston team regarded as one of the NHL’s best defensive clubs.
"Against these guys, I’ve got to get more on the inside and use my speed a little bit better and shoot the puck a little bit more," Nyquist said. "I haven’t shot the puck as much, and that’s something I want to change.
"It’s a tight game out there. There’s not going to be many scoring chances."
Babcock feels that Nyquist now has a reputation in the league, meaning teams pay more attention to him.
"The thing I know about Nyquie is, he always seems to find his game," Babcock said. "I’m not concerned. I had a chat with him last night on the plane. I expect him to be very good."
WINGS LOOK FORWARD TO HOME ICE
With their first-round playoff series shifting back to Detroit for the next two games, then Wings are stoked to be playing in front of the their own fans.
"It’s awesome," Abdelkader said. "The fans are energized. This is the time of year that you want to be playing. There’s always extra intensity.
"Obviously, the games are intense, but the fans, I think, step it up a notch. So we’re all excited to start our playoff series now here at home."