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Are healthy Wings ready to run?

Tuesday, 03.09.2010 / 12:04 PM / News
By Phil Coffey
A 5-4 win may not be the dominating type of victory we are used to seeing from the Detroit Red Wings, but Mike Babcock and Ken Holland aren't going to deduct style points for earning a pair in the standings against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

And you have to like the determination that comes with rallying from two down by scoring a five-spot in the second period.

But what you may have to like best is the Red Wings showed their stuff with a primarily healthy lineup Sunday. Tomas Holmstrom was there, Johan Franzen was there and Niklas Kronwall was there. Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams, and Andreas Lilja too.

"I thought Fil and Bertuzzi together were really good for us tonight, really got going," Babcock said. "And then obviously, Pav and Homer and Mule have been excellent for us, and I thought Z and Clears and those guys chipped in as well. That was good. Helmer's group had a real good night the other night, and that's what you need, you need everyone on deck."

And after a season of looking for enough healthy bodies to simply man the decks, it was a relief for Babcock to have to tick off so many names.

"It's way easier to be more confident when you've got more good players," Babcock told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. "It's pretty straightforward. When your power play goes on the ice, it's dangerous. There are people that are killing momentum. ... The big thing is, we've got to keep building on what we've got going here. We've won four or five. We've got to continue to do that. If you play well over a stretch of time, you earn the right to feel good about yourself."

Still, Babcock isn't going to declare the patient cured just yet, however.

"I think we have a good team here, but a good team is a team that arrives every day and plays," Babcock said. "We've won four out of our last five. Now, can we win four out of the next five? Then we would have won eight of 10 and we'd look like a hockey club."

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY: The Red Wings and Blackhawks have been exceedingly polite to one another this season, in the media, anyway.

After blowing a two-goal lead Sunday, the Hawks were kicking themselves for forgetting who the opponent was.

"Against a team like that, we put it on cruise and we paid for it really quickly," Kris Versteeg said.

"It doesn't matter who's in their lineup, they play the same way, they play the right way, and we just need to be better than that," Jonathan Toews said.

"You've got to keep that pressure up. At the same time, you don't feel it was that much different in the second, it was just that one thing led to another. We kind of got frustrated, stopped talking on the bench, and stopped doing the things that we had to do."

"They're still the team to beat in the West," Andrew Ladd said. "I don't care what anyone says. They have the lineup to do it. They dealt with a lot of injuries this year and have managed to stay right in the playoff hunt. It was a test for us, and we didn't meet that."

Mike Babcock offered some empathy to the Hawks about the agita among the fans regarding Chicago's goaltending.

"The thing with (Cristobal) Huet is much like what's going on in our net," Babcock told reporters. "When you never face any shots and then you miss some, it's always your (the goalie's) fault. Then you have to be really mentally tough to carry that.

"They know it's going to be like that going into the playoffs. We've been through that year after year. You just have to find a way to win. When things like this happen, the first thing is to blame it all on the goalie. This is a team. We're all in it together."

EVERY LOSS HURTS: The Nashville Predators have little margin for error when it comes to seeing hockey in late April. The Colorado Avalanche are up five points on Nashville, and Detroit and Calgary are right on the Preds' heels. So losing to a road-tripping Canucks team Sunday at home was a bitter blow.

"Down the stretch here, we're going to need goaltending," coach Barry Trotz told John Glennon of The Tennessean. "That's plain and simple. Any team that's going to make the playoffs is going to need good goaltending."

As you can infer, Trotz didn't get it from Pekka Rinne against the Canucks, especially on a sideboard slapper from Mikael Samuelsson that went off Rinne's arm and into the net.

"That was the kind of timing where we needed that save," defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "When those weak goals happen, it is tough on the rest of the team and I'm sure (Rinne) would like to have that one back."

Making matter worse for the Preds is defenseman Shea Weber missed the game with an upper-body injury and is likely to miss more time.

"He's still day to day, but he's probably doubtful for Atlanta (on Tuesday)," Trotz said. "He was in this morning and there was some pretty good progress, so hopefully it's not too long."




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