Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Wings avoid long postseason trip

Detroit will open 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs on the road

Saturday, 04.7.2012 / 6:41 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

Wings avoid long postseason trip
Tomas Holmstrom and the Red Wings will open the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs against Nashville and goalie Pekka Rinne. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT – For the last two years, the Red Wings had to battle perhaps its biggest challenge in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs – travel.

By garnering one-point in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Saturday’s season finale for both NHL clubs, the Wings secured the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and drawing Nashville in the opening round.

“That’s great and we don’t have to travel across the country, which to me is the biggest thing,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Every matchup in the league is tough so to me the less travel you have the better off you are.

“We know Nashville good, they know us good, it’ll be fun going down to their building, it’s always exciting down there, we’ve played some good games in there this year, so that should be a lot of fun.”

The Predators are the No. 4 seed and will host the Wings in the first two games of the series at Bridgestone Arena next week. Game 1 will be either Wednesday or Thursday. The complete schedule will be released by the league Sunday afternoon.

The Predators will be a tough test for the Wings, who split the season series with their Central Division rivals. The Preds boasted their lineup with the acquisitions of defenseman Hal Gill, center Paul Gaustad and forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov, who returned to Nashville last month after spending the last three seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

“Obviously, Gill and Gaustad give them big bodies, and description guys that they have a role on the penalty kill and face-offs in particular,” Babcock said. “But no one talks about Kostitsyn. The best deal was for Kostitsyn, he’s a heavy body with skill and so that makes them deeper. But I think when we get our people back we’re pretty deep, too.”

While the Wings have gotten most of their injured players back in the lineup – only center Darren Helm (knee) remains sidelined – many of them haven’t returned to 100 percent, Babcock said. And while it was unfortunate that the team had to withstand injuries to so many key pieces, including Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard, many of them returned with a handful of games left late in the season that they could use to get back to game-shape.

“I think we play hard, but we don’t score like we did at all,” Babcock said. “But I think when these guys who have been out get playing like they can, I think we’re through this now, but we need Helmer back for sure. I think that will be a big boost for us. We’re not near as deep and the energy level from our bottom six isn’t even close.”

The Wings will definitely need a solid penalty kill unit to go up against the league’s most potent power play. The Predators are operating at a 21.7 percent pace with the man-advantage.

“It's going to be extremely tough, not much room out there for anybody,” Howard said. “They've gotten a lot better up front. Getting Radulov was a game-breaker. We have to be aware when he's on the ice. He's so good from the hash marks in. When he has the puck on the stick it's tough to get it away from him, he's like Pav in many ways. It's going to be a fun series.”

But to make it fun, the Wings must break out of a recent goal-scoring drought, one that has seen them produce just nine goals in regulation in the last six games.
“I think you get concerned with lots of things,” Babcock said. “We haven’t given up a whole bunch, even through the times we didn’t win, we didn’t give up a whole bunch, which is a positive thing for us, that’s how you win in the end.

“The other thing that has been real positive is the penalty kill has been so good since we got Big E and Howie back down the stretch here and we feel real good about that part of our game and we’re going to need against Nashville’s power play.”

It will be the third time that the two clubs have faced in a playoff series. The Wings won both previous first-rounds series against Nashville, doing so in six games in 2004 and again in ’08.

This will be just the third time since 1991 that the Wings will open the playoffs on the road. The last time was two years ago when they began at Phoenix.

However, the road was very friendly this season for the Wings, who posted a 17-21-3 mark, just the second losing road record for the franchise in the last 21 seasons.

“We just got to go down and win games there,” center Henrik Zetterberg said. “We wanted to have home ice, we're pretty good at home. We play good in their building. It's a loud building, it's a lot of fun. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




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.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map