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Detroit Red Wings Playoff Game Day Blog

POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 10:45 AM
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 9:00 AM

Jimmy Howard (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Jimmy Howard

DRW: Do you put any additional pressure on yourself as a goaltender now that you are behind in the series?
JH: “No, I don’t think so. You’ve still got to play loose. There’s no reason to get tight because when you get tight, you can’t play your best.”

DRW: The penalty kill has been outstanding, six-for-six in Game 1 and 31 straight over the last eight games. Talk about the job they have done.
JH: “They did a great job the whole night. We knew Nashville had the best power play in the league coming into the playoffs. They did a great job in front of me and we’ve got to continue to do a good job as the series goes on.”

DRW: How do you wind down after a tough playoff game?
JH: “You’ve got to just relax. The playoffs are an emotional roller coaster and you just have to continue to keep a good mind frame. We just hung out. I had Slingbox set up in the room, so we watched a little bit of the Vancouver-Kings game and went to bed at around 12:30.”


Ty Conklin

DRW:
We know you wanted to be out there, but what were your thoughts on Game 1?
TC: “I thought I saw a good hockey game. You had two teams that competed extremely hard. Obviously, there were a lot of penalties and a lot of special teams play. The first two goals were kind of tough bounces really, but I thought we played well even though we were on the wrong end of it.”

DRW: Even if you don’t play, do you still get riled up and energized by what’s going on around you?
TC: “If you aren’t playing in the game, you don’t get the juices flowing on the same level as if you were out there. It’s hard to compare what it’s like. When you are out there, you are in the moment.”

DRW: What is a typically playoff off day like on the road?
TC: On a day like today, we’ll be around the hotel quite a bit. We might grab some lunch now, relax and do some more relaxing. It’s not like we’re going out or anything. There actually can be a lot of downtime, more so than in the regular season, because you aren’t packing up and going to a new city for another game.

DRW: How are you using that downtime?
TC: Like today, I was up at probably 8:30 or 9 for breakfast, hung around the hotel for a bit, called the family back home, watched some TV and came over for practice. I have ripped through all of the TV series I have gotten into. Kind of caught up on everything.

DRW: What kind of shows do you enjoy?
TC: I don’t watch Madmen, but I just finished up Game of Thrones. Sons of Anarchy is another one I enjoy.

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POSTED ON Friday, 04.13.2012 / 12:00 AM
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others too.”
– John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

Okay, so Kennedy was talking about the moon and not the Nashville Predators, but the premise of the speech is still the same.

- This wasn’t going to be easy.

- It will measure the very best that this team has to offer, both in determination and ability.

- They play seven games in a series for a reason. We’ve still got a long way to go.

Jiri Hudler and Pavel Datsyuk during Thursday's practice at Bridgestone Arena.
The Red Wings held practice Thursday afternoon inside Bridgestone Arena. The penalty box was empty. The gold shirts were gone. And while the feelings still linger, the key for our team is that by the time they drop the puck at 7:30, only the positives from Game 1 remain. Things like controlling the bulk of the play over the final two periods, stellar work on the penalty kill, or the way the team responded after Darren Helm’s first period forearm injury.

You know, the good stuff.

“I think when you lose Game 1, especially when you’re the road team; I think it’s a great opportunity to win a game for sure,” Mike Babcock said. “Now we just have to get refocused and we’ve got to win a game in here.”

Yes, the Shea Weber/Henrik Zetterberg controversy was much discussed yesterday, but as the coach would say, you’ve got to put it behind you.

“I worked out with the strength coach, ran and worked off any ill felling I could possibly have,” Babcock said about Game 1 in general. “I’ve moved on.”

Well said.


QUICK STATS:

Ten of the 13 all-time playoff games between Detroit and Nashville have been decided by two goals or fewer.

The Red Wings enter tonight’s contest having killed off their last 31 penalties in a row, including six in Wednesday’s Game 1.

Henrik Zetterberg played 25 minutes and 48 seconds in Game 1, which was second most on the club. More than nine minutes of that was spent on the power play.


TODAY’S SCHEDULE
9:30 AM – Nashville holds their morning skate at Bridgestone Arena
10:30 AM – The Red Wings practice at Bridgestone Arena
7:30 PM – Red Wings-Predators Game 2 (TV: FOX Sports Detroit, CNBC, CBC, RDS2. Radio: 97.1 FM)

KEY INJURIES
Darren Helm will miss the remainder of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs after surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his right forearm. Hal Gill did not skate on Thursday and is expected to be a game time decision for Nashville with a lower body injury.

Wednesday's viewing party at Hockeytown Cafe.
GAME 2 VIEWING PARTY
Need a place to watch tonight’s game? Check out our Official Viewing Party at the Hamlin Pub in Chesterfield (50659 Gratoit Avenue) and watch the game with fellow fans, members of the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol and even Darren McCarty. Take advantage of trivia and prizes galore, including the opportunity to win playoff tickets.

Thanks to Absolut Vodka for sponsoring tonight’s event.

PLAYOFF BEARDS 
We’re three days in, how is your playoff beard doing?

And if you are growing one, why not do so for a good cause by taking part in the 2012 Red Wings Beard-A-Thon, with all proceeds going directly to the Detroit Red Wings Foundation.

For more information, visit the Beard-A-Thon website.

Thanks to Philips Norelco for supporting the 2012 Red Wings Beard-A-Thon.

VOTE FOR DATSYUK:
Pavel Datsyuk is the Red Wings representative in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote after besting teammate Jimmy Howard in the first round of balloting. Now grouped with 30 other NHL stars, Datsyuk needs your help to reach the final 16. Click here to vote!

FOLLOW US

Twitter handles for some pretty important people.
@DetroitRedWings – The team’s official account
@CEmmer48Cory Emmerton
@GNyquistGustav Nyquist
@RSheahan4Riley Sheahan

We’ll have more to come later in the day.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 12:41 AM


THE AMWAY QUALITY PLAY OF THE GAME


How about the special teams? Both of the Red Wings goals came on the power play, including this Henrik Zetterberg tally that tied the game 2:29 into the second period. Detroit was also six-for-six shorthanded, having now killed off 31 consecutive penalties over their last eight games.

“The guys did a tremendous job on the penalty kill all night,” Jimmy Howard said. “We’re going to continue to need that effort the rest of the series here.”



TONIGHT’S THREE STARS, POWERED BY RAM
1) Gabriel Bourque – His two goals, including the game-winner 11:35 into the third period, were the difference in the game.
2) Pekka Rinne – Made 35 saves en route to the victory, none better than a sprawling third period glove save on Henrik Zetterberg to keep Nashville ahead 2-1.
3) Paul Gaustad – Scored Nashville’s first goal of the night at the 6:59 mark of the first period.

TWEET OF THE NIGHT: @HockeyPuckQueen: Pass the ginger ale, Mickey Redmond is trending. #DRWChat

THEY SAID IT: “It could have been a tie going into overtime, but that’s the kind of series I think we’re going to expect. It’s going to be a real close series and you have to take care of your own zone and play well defensively. We’ve got to go get more shots on net too.”
– Nick Lidstrom

We turned it around after the first period. We were in the box a lot there in the first and we turned it around. We carried the play for the majority, but Pekka [Rinne] made some great saves for them, and that was the game.
Jimmy Howard

I thought we deserved a little better, but that’s why they call it a series. There’s more than one game and we have the opportunity to make up for it. We’re just going to come out and continue with the same effort we had in the last two periods, at least. I think we’ll be alright; that’s the way these series tend to be.
Brad Stuart


PUCK LUCK: You can’t score without throwing the puck at the net and Nashville’s first two goals were an example of that. Paul Gaustad fired a puck from behind the net at the crease, banking off of Brad Stuart and in. Matt Halischuk’s second period blast from the point was deflected by Bourque, beating Howard in the corner to make it 2-1.

“Let’s be honest. I mean, the first goal and their second goal were kind of seeing-eye pucks,” Mike Babcock said. “Those things happen in the playoffs.”

“They won tonight. We’ve got to come back the next game, so let’s go.”

TOO MANY PENALTIES: Nashville and Detroit were the least penalized teams in the NHL during the regular season, averaging 8.4 minutes and 8.5 minutes per game respectively.

Tonight the penalty bug was contagious, with seven different Red Wings getting set to the sin bin, while Nashville was booked 10 times. Only 37:25 of Game 1 was played at even strength.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 6:10 PM

Mike Babcock’s pregame press conference.


NEWS ITEM: Darren Helm is expected to play in tonight’s game one. For more, click here.

KEYS TO THE SERIES: Earlier today, we asked fans to offer up their keys to the Red Wings-Predators series. Here are some of the responses we received.

“To me, the biggest key is not letting (Pekka) Rinne get comfortable in net. Make him move, make him make second saves, and make him see Tomas Holmstrom’s backside.”
Jared Pece

“My personal key to the series, many may disagree, would have to be the excitement I feel when gearing up for every game. Regardless of the time of night the game is on, I am always in front of my television cheering on MY team. Getting my hat, jersey and other gear ready is probably the best part of the night, beside the game itself.
Alessia Masella, Toronto, Ontario

“I would say that the key to the series is getting on the scoreboard quick. Beating Rinne won’t be easy, however I think if we get Nashville on their heels, we can control the games and win the series.”
Andy Thomson, Scotland

“I think the Mule (Johan Franzen) is most important. Franzen has got to step up another gear like he’s always done in the playoffs. Whether they know it or not, everyone seems to play better when Franzen is playing well.”
Kevin Kristopik



EXCUSE-O-MATIC: Since I’m in Nashville with the team, I have left some obligations slide for a few days. Thankfully, Mike Babcock has crafted the following excuse for my boss.

Want your own ‘EXCUSED’ note? Visit our Excuse-O-Matic, where any one of our players can get you off the hook for missed calls, unfinished homework, unpaid bills, forgetting your anniversary and much, much more.

http://www.redwingsexcuses.com




WHAT ARE THE LOCALS DOING: In an effort to keep the red out of the building, the Predators are offering jerseys for half-off … if you are willing to part with an old Red Wings sweater.

Where it gets interesting, if not heartwarming, is that the team intends to donate those jerseys back to a worthy Detroit charity. Those who are already Predators fans can purchase jerseys for 20 percent off, even without the jersey trade. Click here for more details.


A WORD WITH JUSTIN ABDELKADER

DRW: How excited are you to get the series underway?
JA: I’m excited. In our profession, you want to reach the playoffs. It’s something you look forward to.

DRW: Did you wake up with an extra spring in your step this morning?
JA: Like they say, the veterans, and I don’t consider myself a veteran just yet, get a new found energy for the playoffs. It’s a fun time of year to be playing and it’s the best time of year to be playing. The start of Game 1 is usually fast, one of the faster games in the series because everyone is so excited.

DRW: You aren’t afraid to get involved when things get chippy. Do you expect that to be the case tonight?
JA: It’s going to be a tight checking game, a hard fought game like every other game in the series should be. We’re just excited to get started.

And finally, Nick Lidstrom joins Ken Kal for today’s Comerica Bank Game Day Preview.



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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 3:15 PM

Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard

This season marked the first time Howard made the All-Star team; winning 31 games by the time the calendar hit February 1. That was followed by a finger injury, then the groin injury, and all of the sudden; the Red Wings netminder had just four wins to his credit over the final two-plus months of the regular season.

Howard made 27 saves in a victory over St. Louis last week, a game that had playoff intensity and feel to it. He is also 2-1-1 over his last four starts, with a stellar 1.66 GAA and a .937 save percentage, which is a good sign that those injuries are in the rearview mirror. And didn’t you just love how Howard told John Keating after sweeping Phoenix last year that he wasn’t ready to sleep until June? That’s exactly what you want to see and hear from the last line of defense.

“I’m feeling better and I’ve been playing a lot better as of late, especially compared to a month ago,” Howard said. “It was like I had been thrown out of whack, especially when we were out West, it seemed like things were going at a million miles an hour, but over the last four games, as each game has passed, I feel like I’m playing a lot better and that’s a good sign.


Bridgestone Arena
Winning on the Road

Players and fans alike are relieved that Nashville is a simple, one-hour flight from DTW, as opposed to Phoenix, Los Angeles, or San Jose. (four-plus hours and a three-hour time change) And if say, Chicago were to upset Phoenix and Detroit were to take care of the Predators, the Wings may not have to head to the West Coast until the Western Conference Final.

Those are hypothetical situations. While the Red Wings won 21 straight games at Joe Louis Arena during the regular season, they were 17-21-3 on the road in 2011-12. How’s that for Jekyl and Hyde?

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I wish I did, or else we would have solved it.”

“We were the exact opposite hockey club last year, so good on the road and not as good at home. Maybe we got so focused on it, got rolling at home to the point we weren’t so good on the road. I don’t know the answer. I know Nashville won five more games than we did on the road.”

As the fifth seed, the Red Wings will have to win at least one game at Bridgestone Arena to win the best-of-seven series.


Nashville’s Acquisitions vs. the Red Wings Health

There’s no better news to report than the fact that everybody has been skating over the last few days. This includes Darren Helm, who suffered a knee injury during an overtime loss to San Jose on March 17.

Helm’s status will be determined after today’s morning skate. Mike Babcock said the decision will be up to his player, but he’d like to have him in the lineup.

Will Helm be 100 percent? Of course not. Few players are this time of year, but having his speed and energy helps. And you have to feel good about a Red Wings squad that features a healthy Darren Helm, Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Ericsson.

Just like Nashville has to feel good about adding Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad and Alexander Radulov to a lineup that already included Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne and Mike Fisher.

Jiri Hudler was one player with very high praise for his former KHL counterpart.

“He was a star,” Hudler said. “The best player in the league back there and I’m pretty sure he will be here too.”

“I think it will help him a little that he came right after the season. He played a lot of minutes back home and he was one of the best players while he was there. He plays hard, brings a lot of good energy and has a good hockey sense. He’s a good playoff guy.”

What is your key to the series? Send your thoughts along to redwingssocialmedia@gmail.com and you may be featured in our mailbag later today.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 2:50 PM

Carrie Underwood

Famous For: We have cars. They have country music.

Celebrity Influence: We have Kid Rock and Eminem. They have Carrie Underwood (who is married to Predators forward Mike Fisher) and Taylor Swift. Aretha Franklin has ties to both Michigan and Tennessee, as she was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and later grew up in Detroit.

Greek Influence: We have Greektown. They have a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.

Power in Numbers: The all-time record attendance at Michigan Stadium is114,804, while Neyland Stadium once topped out at 109,061. Go Blue!

Michigan Stadium

Culinary Staples: Sign us up for Coney’s, with pulled pork and ribs on the side.

Seafood Tradition: We all know the legend of the octopus, but Nashville has the catfish. The tradition supposedly dates back to an art contest held in 2003 Artists painted big fiberglass catfish that were placed across the city. Somehow, one fan snuck a real live catfish into the building, threw it onto the ice surface and the whole thing stuck.

That’s the story we’ve been told and we’re sticking to it, unless proven otherwise.

Main Street: Woodward holds the heart of Detroit, while Broadway boasts the best of Nashville.


Concert Venue:
They have the Grand Ole Opry, while we have the FOX Theatre.

The Die-Hards: Ours are Wing Nuts, while the Predators rowdy fans sit in a section called ‘Cell Block 303.’
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 2:16 PM

Jonathan Ericsson (Photo by Dave Reginek)
Jonathan Ericsson

DRW: How excited are you to get the playoffs underway?
JE: It’s going to be really exciting. I know some of the guys in the room would look at the (standings) board after 15 or 20 games and think ‘Man, this is going to take a while to reach 82.’ But it seems to fly by too. Now that we’re here, everyone is excited and ready to go.”

DRW: Hal Gill brings considerable size to Nashville’s defense, do you see any of yourself in his game?
JE: “Not really. He’s a few numbers bigger than me, both lengthwise and sizewise. When you compare it to our team, I see it because I’m the biggest defenseman here. Though I’m not really watching.”

“For me, I try and be mobile. Stay smaller against the smaller guys, who I kind of envy. You look at Kronwall. How quick he turns and the way he moves. I want to be like that, but big. Though he (Gill) is a very good player and it is nice to be mentioned alongside him.”

DRW: Are there defenseman you watch and try and pick things up from?
JE: There are always qualities in every defenseman, so you try and pick up things that those guys are good at. Weber’s a really big guy for their team, closer to my size and length (than Gill), but he’s got a really good shot. He’s really good on the power play and plays in all situations on the penalty kill. He’s a guy I like to watch and he’s a really good payer.

DRW: Are you a fan of country music? If so, who?
JE: I am. My favorite band right now would be the Zac Brown Band, but I really like a lot of different artists. Keith Urban, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood are also very good. I listen to a lot more country than I did before I came to the U.S. We don’t have a lot of country music in Sweden.


Gustav Nyquist (Photo by Gregory Shamus)
Gustav Nyquist

DRW: How excited are you to play in your first Stanley Cup Playoff game?
GN: “I’m pretty excited about it. This year has been a pretty cool journey and I’m ready to start the playoffs.”

DRW: On Saturday, Mike Babcock put you alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for a few shifts in the third period. How do you adjust to playing with two of the best players in the world? Is it intimidating?
GN: “You’ve got to be ready every minute out there. Sure, those guys make it easier because they are two of the best players in the league, if not the world. It’s a lot of fun to play with them, but you can’t be thinking too much about who you are playing with either.”

“It’s of course, a boost of confidence to play with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, but you have to do your part to keep up. When playing with those guys, I’ll probably play around the net more often, so those guys can have the puck and create in the corner.”

DRW: How much do you have to alter your approach depending on who you are lined up with?
GN: “You think about it a little bit more with some players, but we have our systems and everyone buys into the, so we’re all playing the same way. I’d say the only time it really changes is deep in the offensive zone, where players like Homer (Holmstrom) have different advantages.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 11:20 AM

And here is who our friends in the media are picking in this series.

Two of NHL.com’s 16 writers and analysts have picked the Red Wings.
View entire article.

Two of Pro Hockey Talk’s five experts have picked Detroit.
View entire article.

Scott Cullen (TSN.ca) – Detroit in 6
View entire article.

Sean Hartnett (CBS New York) – Nashville in 6
View entire article.

11 of ESPN’s 12 experts pick Nashville. Linda Cohn is the only one to pick Detroit.
View entire article.

Chuck Pleiness (Macomb Daily) – Wings in 6
View entire article.

WhatifSports – Detroit in 7
View entire article.

As you would expect, JJ and Graham from Winging in Motown have picked the Wings.
View entire article.

Our friends at the Nightmare on Helm Street do the same.
View entire article.

Jesse Spector (Sporting News) – Red Wings in 7
View entire article.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 10:45 AM

"What do you mean you aren't picking us?" (Photo by Detroit Red Wings)
Here are some of today’s clips from
our friends in the media.


Bob Wojonowski of the Detroit News sits down with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock for an exclusive one-on-one.

Among the highlights:

Q. So, can you calm a nervous Hockeytown? The Wings have overcome a bunch of injuries, but I get the sense people don't think there's gonna be a run this year.

A. This is what I'd say to you — going into the summer, (GM) Kenny Holland and I talked a lot, and we didn't even know if we'd make the playoffs. Then as the year went on, I said this is the best opportunity for any team I've coached since '09 (when the Wings lost in the Cup finals to the Penguins).
So what's changed between now and then? We've had some injuries. But our real team is gonna be starting the playoffs. I'm confident and they're confident. For whatever reason, year after year, we seem to find ways to win games. I've been here seven years and we've won tons of playoff games. I expect that to continue.


Click here to view entire article.
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Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News breaks down various matchups between the Red Wings and Predators.

View entire article.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Darren Helm wore a red, full-contact jersey in practice yesterday. Ansar Kahn of MLive has more on his status, which is up to Darren Helm.

“I watched him again today and he was flying; when he blew by our D I thought he looked pretty good,'' (Mike) Babcock said. "So all he's got to do is tell me he's playing and I'm happy to have him.'' 

View entire article.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

It always helps to have veteran experience in the playoffs. As Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com points out, Tomas Holmstrom could be a big factor for the Red Wings in this series.

Not since the 2003-04 season has Holmstrom played so sparingly for the Wings. This season was his lowest average ice-time per game, which is roughly four-minutes less than his average over the past six seasons.

Still, Holmstrom will likely play a crucial role in the Wings’ opening round playoff series against the Predators, which begins Wednesday night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Of his 11 goals, 10 came on the Wings’ power play this season.


View entire article.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes about how Jonathan Ericsson has become a dependable part of the Wings defensive core, especially on the penalty kill.

The Wings finished 25-for-25 over the final seven games of the regular season. For the season, the Wings ranked 18th in the NHL on the penalty kill (81.8%).

Why has the penalty kill performed so well of late?

"I don't know," Ericsson said. "We do a good scouting job before the games. We go through it every morning before games and try to stick to our plan. Last few times it worked really well for us. ... Sometimes you have a stretch where you really play well and then there's times where you don't have the bounces. Right now everyone is confident in our PK and that's good."


View entire article.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Winging it in Motown offers up a Game 1 preview.

Whether we live in Kansas, Chicago, Boston or the great state of Michigan, we all hail from Hockeytown, and, us Red Wings fans, we understand that the regular season has it's place. It's necessary to give entertainment (I use that term loosely) to those who live in Toronto, Columbus, Minnesota and Long Island. At the end of the day though, it's an 82-game warm up for tonight. The Wings have had a Jekyll and Hyde type season and they find themselves as the 5th seed and starting on the road for only the third time in my entire 24 year existence.

View entire article.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean has an update on Predators defenseman Hal Gill, who skated by himself on Tuesday and is a game time decision according to coach Barry Trotz.

View entire article.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

John Manaso of NHL.com shines the spotlight on Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, who will have to carry the load if the Predators are to go deep into the playoffs.

View entire article.

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