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Wings need a 'full 60 minutes'

No. 2 seed is still up for grabs with two games to go

Friday, 04.8.2011 / 2:28 PM ET / News
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
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Wings need a \'full 60 minutes\'
DETROIT – The regular-season concludes this weekend with a home-and-home series against Chicago. And for the Red Wings, who are headed to their unprecedented 20th straight Stanley Cup playoffs appearance, they can control whether the archrival Blackhawks continue to play in April.

When the smoke clears Sunday evening, the Wings will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, but the Blackhawks do not have the luxury of feeling as comfortable. If the playoffs started today, Chicago would hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Yet the Dallas Stars are only two points behind Chicago, which means if the Blackhawks struggle this weekend, summer will start very early for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

When a reporter asked Wings goalie Jimmy Howard if there was some extra motivation for the final two games knowing that the Wings could end their rivals’ season, he joked that maybe the Wings would want to let Chicago make the playoffs.

Then, on a more serious note, he said that the important thing is the Wings preparing themselves for the playoffs, and not worrying about another team’s fortunes.

“It’s going to be another hard game tonight,” Howard said. “They need to win, and we need to match their intensity for a full 60 minutes. I thought we did a great job the other day against Carolina in the first period, and then in the second and third we started turning pucks over and it bit us a little bit.

“Tonight, we have to concentrate on ourselves, a full 60 minutes of intensity, making sure we get pucks out at our blue line and in at theirs so it’s tough on their D.”

The Blackhawks will secure a playoff spot by earning at least a point tonight and the Stars fail to do the same at Colorado.

Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom pointed out that the Wings are keeping an eye on the standings for their benefit, not necessarily for the Blackhawks. Detroit is one point behind second-place San Jose.

“It’s more a matter of playing well heading into the playoffs,” he said. “When you’re playing you want to win, you want to win the games, we want to move up in the standings too, to try to get the second spot, so I think our focus is to play well and win games in the last couple games that are left.”

The Wings will need help from Phoenix if they want to catch San Jose in the standings. The Sharks have a home-and-home with the Coyotes to conclude their season.

Darren Helm said the Wings aren’t concerning themselves with Chicago’s situation, because they plan to use these last two games to prepare for the competitiveness that lies ahead.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit lately to find our game,” Helm said. “I think that’s our main focus right now, just finding our game, finding a way to put a full 60 together and going into the playoffs on a positive note, knowing that we figured out how to play Red Wings’ hockey.

“We’ve played a lot of teams that are fighting for spots or for their playoff lives, and we haven’t responded quite the way we need to. Being a rival, like Chicago is, hopefully we’ll find a way to get focused, get motivated, and just realize what’s really at stake here. We have to play better hockey, it should have started a month ago, but we’ve got two games left here to get things going and go into the playoffs, we’ve got a good chance, a good opportunity ahead, so we’ve got to get these things fixed.”
 

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
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
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80