Apr 29, 2013, 12:11 PM EDT
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.
- Kane’s OT goal ties Blackhawks – Blues series at 2-2 19
- Stars chase Andersen, tie series with Ducks 2-2 19
- Penguins blow three-goal lead, Columbus evens series 83
- NHL suspends Matt Cooke for seven games 96
- Ducks’ Getzlaf (upper body) isn’t available for Game 4 (Updated) 3
- Two years after winning the Cup, the Kings’ ‘mix’ comes into question 39
- Duck drama: Selanne to sit as healthy scratch in Game 4 15
- MacKinnon, Johnson and Palat named Calder Trophy finalists 12
- Sharks beat Kings in OT, take 3-0 stranglehold on series 43
- Rangers chase Emery, top Flyers for 2-1 series lead 56
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (137)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)