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Abel to Yzerman

Babcock: 4th Line Needs More Minutes

I may be slightly sarcastic in my reviews (or outright fabrications) of Mike Babcock's comments to our DD's, but that shouldn't come across as an indictment on his coaching ability. He's proven himself, last year's Punch in the Face notwithstanding. He's dealt with the losses of Shanny and Yzerman. He's shuffled an injury-plagued lineup the whole year. And he's made good on a guarantee that this team would be tougher to play against. But he still sees room for improvement...from himself.

Danny Knobler/MLive

“It’s important to play a lot of forwards, and as a coach, in my opinion, I haven’t done as good a job here lately of using everybody. I think it’s really important we do a better job. We can play with more tempo and more energy. So the coach has to support that in how he plays guys.”

It’s a valid point, and one we haven’t touched on enough here. I’ve been quick to criticize Jiri Hudler, but slow to acknowledge the kid is only getting around 5 minutes/game.  I’ve mentioned a few times recently that shot totals are up, but don’t take into account the fact that we may be looking at a tired team. 

The style of hockey Babcock has introduced, despite the perceptions of “Eurohockey”, has got to be draining on these players.  Defensive responsibility. Forechecking. Grit. Shot blocking.  All take energy, energy that should be spread over four lines.  35 shots/game, two games in a row against Minnesota?  The Wings are tired and Babcock acknowledges it.  Filpulla played 13 minutes last night, but only after The Enigma left with the flu midway through the first.

Perhaps this will be the onset of better numbers for Hudler, Langfeld, Filpulla.  At the very least, Babcock’s admission should mean a little rest for the other 9 forwards


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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com