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Babcock explains how the Red Wings have to play now

Feb 14, 2013, 11:34 AM EDT

Mike Babcock

Those of you who enjoy the X’s and O’s of hockey will probably enjoy this MLive.com article in which Detroit coach Mike Babcock explains how the loss of puck-moving defensemen like Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart has changed the look of the Red Wings.

No longer, Babcock explains, can they rely so much on stretching the ice with long passes; instead, they have to move more as a five-man unit if they want to push the play and keep control of the puck.

“We have to be closer and tighter and more available and better defensively, and sometimes it’s not very pretty, but that’s just the way it is,” Babcock said.

The key, he says, is to be able to hit the opponent’s blue line with speed, which either produces an entry while maintaining possession or a dump and chase with a good chance of retrieval.

“The game’s real simple, the more time you spend in your zone, the less time you spend in their zone, the more you dump the puck because you got no speed on the rush,” Babcock said.

“If you’re efficient coming out and move the puck and you do it right once, you’re coming with speed, you don’t have to dump the puck, you probably get some sort of entry, or at least you give up possession and get it right back. Dumping the puck is awful when you’re just dumping it in and changing. You spend the whole game in your own zone wearing yourself out.”

In a related story, if Babcock can help keep the Red Wings (7-4-2) in the upper echelon of the Western Conference and extend the team’s consecutive playoff appearances streak to 22, he should be right there in the coach of the year discussions.

Related: Zetterberg ‘may be as good as I’ve seen him,’ says Kronwall

  1. hockeywithdrawal - Feb 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Completely agreed about the Coach of the Year discussions, Babcock is always a class act. From a player standpoint though they do need to get comfortable with their defense over the next few years, because they are going to have to rebuild that offense after that.

  2. bensawesomeness - Feb 14, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I just read an article that the Detroit Free Press put online, and basically I’ll go ahead and echo it’s sentiments

    if the wings are serious about this year being a rebuilding year, play the young guys more. Nyquist was electric lady year in the playoffs, yet err haven’t seen him at all this year. The kid goalie the other day who’s name I forget, was fantastic, but instead of letting him play, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets sent back down tomorrow.
    The kids have to learn how to play on this level, I’d rather give the kids a chance to play next to Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Kronwall and Howard than put Abby on a line with Z ever, ever again.
    was ugly to watch…

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