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Babcock says he's happy with Wings' play

Wednesday, 01.20.2010 / 1:19 PM ET / News
By Dan Rosen
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Babcock says he\'s happy with Wings\' play
WASHINGTON -- If Detroit coach Mike Babcock had some complaints regarding his team, he would air them. He's not the type that usually holds back.

That's why it's telling when Babcock, less than 30 minutes after watching the Red Wings blow a pair of one-goal leads and lose a game they most definitely should have won, said he has no issues at all with how his team is playing.

The Red Wings have lost three-straight games, two by way of shootout over the weekend and then 3-2 in regulation to the Washington Capitals Tuesday night. They remain ninth in the Western Conference, a rare spot for a team that is so used to being the hunted.

But Babcock is smiling.

"Don't get me wrong, we're in the winning business and we need points, but I like the way our team has played," Babcock said. "We know we're a work in progress and we think we're getting better all the time. I think if you ask their team how our team played I think they will be fairly respectful to say the least. They got the points here (in D.C.) and that's what it is all about, winning, but they know who had the puck."

The Red Wings did for the majority of Tuesday's game.

They outshot the Capitals 46-23, but couldn't build on a 1-0 lead in the second period or hold a 2-1 lead in the third. They were 0-for-5 on the power play and let the Caps score twice within 46 seconds late in the third period to steal the win.

Washington's Nicklas Backstrom scored with 6:45 to play when Todd Bertuzzi was in the penalty box for tripping, and David Steckel scored the winner with 5:59 left.

"It's disappointing the way they came back and got that third goal," captain Nicklas Lidstrom told "It's disappointing when you can't hang on in a game like this."

A game like this -- for two meaningful points in the middle of January -- is something the Red Wings aren't too familiar with. Normally by now they are chasing the Presidents' Trophy or at the very least first place in the Western Conference. But through 49 games, they are still trying to jump into the top eight -- and two points over their last three games won't help their cause.

"It's different," forward Dan Cleary admitted to "When you're scoreboard-watching to see how other teams are doing, it's different. But, it makes games like (Tuesday's) real important as opposed to previous years when we'd come in and not necessarily know it was a given, but we would know we had a real good chance of winning if we played our game."

Funny thing is, the Wings are starting to feel that way again, even though the results aren't yet there.

Lidstrom said he senses the Wings are back to playing more of a team game, and Babcock mentioned how nobody is losing patience.

They showed that Tuesday night by playing what really was vintage Red Wings' hockey.

They dominated time of possession and had twice as many shots as the Capitals. They became the first team since Oct. 8, 2007, to hold Alex Ovechkin without a shot on goal. They even scored a timely goal in the third period to take a 2-1 lead before it all evaporated.

"We've had a few games like this where we should have pulled away or we should have gotten a second goal earlier in the second period but we didn't and teams find a way to beat us," Lidstrom said. "That's a little bit of what we have seen so far, but I do think we have been getting better at playing as a team again by keeping goals against down and keeping scoring chances down. We haven't been able to score as many goals, and that's been one of our problems."
Don't get me wrong, we're in the winning business and we need points, but I like the way our team has played. We know we're a work in progress and we think we're getting better all the time. - Mike Babcock

It's a problem that could be rectified soon as the Wings continue to get healthy.

Cleary and Jonathan Ericsson recently rejoined into the lineup. Niklas Kronwall remains roughly a week to 10 days away, according to GM Ken Holland. Johan Franzen should be back just before the Olympic break or definitely after it. Jason Williams is also on the mend and Tomas Holmstrom should be back soon, too.

"We believe we have a good team," Cleary said. "We had a lot of people that were out for an extended time and we did a good job to stay in the hunt, so we're right there and we believe we'll be a dangerous team when we get in.

"Now we just have to find a way to win."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80