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Wings get boost from healthy D

Big Four back together again for first time since Jan. 30

Tuesday, 03.11.2008 / 11:13 PM ET / News
By Matthew O'Day  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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Wings get boost from healthy D
DETROIT -- Just in time for the stretch run, the Red Wings’ defense has reassembled in full.

With Chris Chelios’ return to action against Chicago on Tuesday, Detroit can ice its full complement of defensemen for the first time since the January 30 game against Phoenix, when Niklas Kronwall was forced out of the lineup due to injury. During that stretch, the Wings went 7-8-2 and looked as though they may lose their bid for the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record in the league.

Fighting the absences of Chelios and Kronwall, as well as injuries to Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, the Red Wings acquired defenseman Brad Stuart at the trade deadline to bolster their then patchwork blue line. With those five, as well as Andreas Lilja and Brett Lebda, the Wings were able to demonstrate what they hope to be the stifling defense, which will propel them throughout the NHL playoffs.

“[For Brad Stuart], I think it takes a few games to get used to the players he’s playing with, you know, our tendencies, how the forwards are playing, where they want the pucks," Lidstrom said. "It takes a few games to get to know your teammates, and I think he’s been doing a tremendous job so far.”

And there was no question that the Wings’ blueliners took it upon themselves to put the screws to the Blackhawks – a team whose speed and opportunism had given Detroit problems earlier in the season.

“I thought tonight we played a lot better for 60 minutes,” Lidstrom said. “A lot of teams we’re playing lately are fighting for that playoff spot, and Chicago, tonight was no different. They’re playing hard – with desperation too – and I think it shows early on.”

Winning four out of the previous five matchups, including both contests at JLA, the Hawks had demonstrated an ability to get shots on Detroit’s netminders – as well as protect their own. In the first three games between the two teams -- all Hawks victories -- the Red Wings only outshot the Blackhawks by an average of two per game – a far cry from the nearly 11 shot per game advantage Detroit has enjoyed this season.

It was a combination of Detroit’s discipline – only providing Chicago with two fruitless powerplay attempts – and their lockdown defense – Chicago only amassed 20 shots on goal to Detroit’s 47.

“I was very impressed tonight,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We had a lot of territorial play and it was a good night for us.”

“We kept them on the outside more, and we didn’t give them too many scoring chances,” added Lidstrom.

A powerplay midway through the game could have given the Hawks the lead, but Detroit’s penalty killing unit – headed by a Lidstrom-Chelios pairing – held Chicago without a shot for the entire two-minute span. With momentum on the side of the Wings, Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-winner later in the period.

And while the score was close, the shot tally was far more indicative of the flow of the game. The Red Wings’ defense did a fantastic job of keeping Chicago’s potent offense away from goalie Chris Osgood while his rookie counterpart, Corey Crawford, did a stellar job but ultimately couldn’t keep Detroit’s offense at bay.

Ultimately, the Hawks got a preview of the smothering Detroit defense, which should be present through the rest of the season, and into the playoffs, and as Lidstrom notes, the team is preparing for the long run.

“We’re talking about paying attention to details," he said. "We’re really looking at sharpening things up and we’re trying to correct the last 10 or 15 games we have here.

“I’m actually eager to get some games under my belt before the playoffs start.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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