Apr 29, 2013, 12:11 PM EST
Back in February, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock spoke about the way his team had to play now that legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was retired.
“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 said, was 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.
Veteran defenseman Ian White failed to move the puck the way his coach wanted and found himself in the press box as a result.
“We’ve really improved drastically in that area, probably the most improved part of our team,” Babcock said. “With [goalie Jimmy Howard] playing the way he is and the D able to get the puck going, we’re spending a lot less time in our zone. That allows you to be much better up front.”
Detroit finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak. (And in the two losses that preceded those four wins, they outshot their opponents by a wide margin.)
The Wings open their 22nd straight postseason Tuesday in Anaheim against a Ducks side that’s just 8-9-2 in its last 19 games.
- Daly: Fehr’s lockout prediction ‘naive and uneducated’ 21
- Pens send Downie, Sutter, Greiss home for mumps test (Updated) 13
- The Atlantic Division race is going to be fascinating 20
- Flyers rally as Zepp wins his career debut at 33 years old 22
- Oilers squander three-goal lead, lose 18th time in 19 games 11
- Pickard makes one last bid to stay, beats Wings in nine-round SO 6
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno 45
- Giroux line takes Leafs ‘to school’ in Flyers’ 7-4 victory 17
- Wolverine Pacioretty gets two assists just two days after being hospitalized 18
- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 9