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Wings shift to different mindset

Intensity amongst players rises with playoffs

Tuesday, 04.12.2011 / 3:09 PM ET / News
By Jeff Sanford  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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Wings shift to different mindset
DETROIT – Over the sounds of rattling boards and stray pucks slamming against glass, a voice booms throughout a nearly empty Joe Louis Arena. Rarely does a voice echo so loud during non-game days, but Tuesday was different, and Wings coach Mike Babcock is making himself heard over the sounds of a particularly intense practice.

It’s the last full practice before Detroit kicks-off the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes, and the mood on the ice and in the locker room is changed, elevated somehow. Babcock can see it in his players.

“Just night and day different,” Babcock said after Tuesday’s practice. “Not just the practice, but how they were sitting around before practice, how the (pre-practice) meeting was, you know, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom acknowledged the increase in focus and fervor in his teammates.

“There’s 16 teams battling for the Cup now, and instead of having 82 games, now it comes down to winning a series,” Lidstrom said. “It’s a different mindset. You could tell in practice that it was a different mindset out there.”

Despite having a winning record over the Coyotes during the regular-season – Detroit went 2-1-1 against Phoenix – the third-seeded Wings realize they have a tough road ahead of them against the sixth-seeded Coyotes.

“They play a very good system,” Lidstrom said. “They don’t give up any 3-on-2s or 2-on-1s. They just play a very sound system, defensive system, (in the) neutral zone and defensive zone. So they’re very tough to get scoring chances against.”

Shoring up Phoenix’s defensive prowess is netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, who is in the league’s top-10 for save percentage (.921) and wins (36). 

“He’s one of the best in the league,” Lidstrom said. “He’s so big in net. He’s very athletic. He’s making those saves where you think you’re going to score on them.”

Babcock knows the test that’s ahead of his team, one made perhaps more difficult by the extra hunger Phoenix has to avenge last spring’s early exit out of the postseason, courtesy of the Wings.

“We beat them last year in the playoffs, and they’ve got a long memory,” Babcock said. “Just like everybody else. They’ve got real good goaltending, they stabilized their back end, and they’ve got veteran players, and they work hard up front. They’re going to be a real test for us, we understand.”

With a shaky end to the regular-season, the team realizes they have to improve in key areas if they want to succeed far into the postseason.

“You want to tighten up defensively,” Lidstrom said. “You want to play well in your own zone. Push the shooters to the outside and give them not as good as a chance to score from the outside. Be there for the rebounds and help out the goalies. That’s one of the things we haven’t done a good job on, being there for the rebounds.”

Still, Detroit is a confident team moving forward, and with good reason. After all, the Wings have made the playoffs every year in the past 20, a major professional sports record.

“We’re optimistic that we’re a good team and that we’re going to be well prepared and we’re going to go out and play hard,” Babcock said.

“We’re all excited again,” Lidstrom said. “It feels like you’re 18 again and heading into the playoffs. We’re all excited about getting going.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80