Keating: Win or play golf for Wings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s a resolute group of Red Wings, who were getting set to play the Predators in Nashville on Friday night.

The requisite hallway soccer was in progress with nary a thought given to whether it might be the last hallway soccer ’til the fall.

It’s a festival of shrug. What else can you do?

The game is an 8:05 ET puck drop. The Wings would like to be up to speed at, ya know, 8:05.

“I just think we get out and get started at time,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “There can be no more desperate team than us.

“Territorial play hasn’t been an issue for us, with the exception of the third period in Game 2.”

The very peculiar aspect of this series is that the Wings have outshot Nashville in each game, with the exception of Game 2. In that game, they had only 17 shots on Pekka Rinne — and that’s the only game they’ve won in the series.

“I think we got quite a few chances; I don’t think we’ve scored”, Babcock said of his team’s inability to put the puck in the net. “The big thing for me is, we need to score some goals.  

“We can’t just be impatient. We need some second chances on their goaltender. The puck’s not coming off him very much because he catches a lot of things. We’ve got a way to figure out how to get some second chances.   

“They’re confident in their goaltender, and they don’t mind giving you the chance. And they’re all going to sag to the net, so we got to fight for seconds.”

Detroit hasn’t been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs since 2006, when Edmonton shocked the hockey world. In Northern Alberta, there are still some people wearing the frozen stare — and it has nothing to do with the temperature there.    

Nashville knows if the Wings seem determined through the first four games of the series, Game 5 will present a much higher standard. Awaiting golf clubs can have that kind of an effect.

“Our players recognize that we’ve been in this situation ourselves”, Predators head coach Barry Trotz sad. “You just know, they’re going to come out and play their best game, and we have to play our best game. And at the end of the night,  you just hope you’re on the positive side.   

“We’ve got a lot of respect for the Red Wings. We know their history from last year with the Sharks. You guys have done our job so far real good. You’ve given us lots of ammo as coaches to throw at the players.  

“It’s got to be a shift-to-shift mentality. It’s not about the game; it’s about shift to shift”.

The sidebar to the story is the fervent hope that this is just another game to the Red Wings classy captain. And not the last game.

Babcock pushes all of those dour thoughts away.

“I think Nick Lidstrom retires when he thinks he’s not a good player any more,” Babcock said. “But I think he’s been a pretty darn good player. I don’t know what could possibly be more fun than playing hockey on a great team.  

“I know his wife … so she doesn’t want him at home for sure.”

Nick and the Wings are hopeful of being home for a Game 6, then anything is possible.

But EVERYTHING hinges on how they play in Game 5.