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Babcock expecting a better November

Tuesday, 11.3.2009 / 11:43 AM ET / News
By Dan Rosen  - Senior Writer
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Babcock expecting a better November
Mike Babcock looked at the Red Wings' schedule in early September and immediately started planning for a rocky October.

"We played nine exhibition games in 12 nights, traveled to Sweden and went on a five game road trip for 11 days," Babcock told Monday. "I knew all this before it started, but what do you do? Do you tell them it's going to be tough? Who cares?"

Nobody is feeling sorry these days for the Red Wings, who have also been handcuffed by key injuries to Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula and are now battling a flu-bug going around the team.

Defensemen Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson all missed Monday's practice.

As the Wings prepare for the first of 14 games in November tonight at 7 at home against Boston (Versus, TSN), they find themselves third in the Central Division and 11th in the Western Conference with 13 points (5-4-3).

But Babcock, always a straight shooter, senses good things on the horizon for his beleaguered squad because there are some good vibes coming out of the Wings' recent road trip and 17 of their next 28 games are at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit closed out its longest trip of the first half 2-1-2 thanks to a 3-1 victory Saturday night in Calgary. Babcock said it was their best game of the trip "because we got some saves early."

The Wings' lone regulation loss came in Colorado, but they outshot the Avalanche, 49-23. Craig Anderson made 48 saves for a 3-1 victory.

Babcock said Darren Helm, who missed most of training camp and the first four games of the season with a shoulder injury, is starting to get on a roll and rookie Justin Abdelkader played his best game of the season in Calgary.

"He looks like an NHL player instead of a kid in awe, which is important," Babcock said.

It helps, of course, that Pavel Datsyuk had eight points on the trip, including 2 goals and 6 assists.

"People just underestimate how strong he is on his stick and what he can do in tight," Kris Draper told the Detroit Free Press of Datsyuk. "He's got a lot of confidence right now, and he's doing it all at both ends of the ice for us. When he's playing like that, he's a dominant hockey player, and that's exactly what we need from him."

Detroit outshot its opponents, 193-130, over the five games, including 70-43 in the third period. It staked Edmonton a 3-0 lead 12:24 into the game, but came back with a pair of goals in the second and three unanswered in the third to force a shootout it eventually lost.

"I think as a team we're skating way better than we were as a start and I think we're playing way better," Babcock said. "I haven't liked our goaltending and I thought as a group we have turned over the puck too much. In saying all that, we just went on the road and we did a lot of really good things. We got points in four out of the five games."

Babcock is a big believer in consistency, so the key to getting the Red Wings over the proverbial hump this season will be sticking to the plan.

"When you have done a lot of winning as a coach or a player you have some confidence that you know what should happen," he said. "Instead of changing your plan and deviating, you tend to be steady on the rudder and you just keep going."

He said he's had conversations about just that with captain Nicklas Lidstrom and alternates Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. All three have re-affirmed his belief.

"They have all said the same thing to me, 'We're not that far off Babs, let's just keep going, keep going,' " Babcock said. "I think that's real important because if they're telling you this is no good, that is no good, this isn't working, than I think you've got some problems.

"We like our group," he added. "We think we have a lot of players that can still play better. We think our kids are coming. We just have to continue to work at being better offensively by being harder at the net, better defensively by giving up nothing, no turnovers, and we need better goaltending."

Yes, Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard have had their share of problems. The Wings entered the week eighth in the League in shots against per game (27.8), but 22nd in goals against per game (3.33).

They were able to win in Vancouver last Tuesday, 5-4, despite the fact that two of the Canucks' first three shots of the game beat Osgood, who was pulled 7:05 into the game. Two nights later, Edmonton beat Howard on three of its first seven shots.

"I mean, all Ozzie has done in the League is win about 400 games, so I expect him to get into a groove. He has to," Babcock said confidently. "Howard has to settle in and play the game he's capable of playing. As we get better as a team, there will be a lot less pressure on them, which is important as well.

"The bottom line is we got some opportunity at home now and we have to get rolling," he continued. "We have to get feeling good about ourselves. I look today and we're two points out of the playoffs and we got I think games in hand. So, let's get rolling."




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


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
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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