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Mike Babcock Today

Q. An update on Lidstrom and Datsyuk?

        MIKE BABCOCK: They didn’t practice. Both guys are feeling better. We’ll see what goes on in the skate tomorrow, see if they’re available for that skate.

        Q. Given the fact that your team played as well as they did without them, any chance that you would give them…

        MIKE BABCOCK: None. If they’re ready, they’re playing.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the change or the way Osgood kind of turned on a switch from the regular season and into these playoffs.

        MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, I don’t think he turned on a switch. I think the biggest change in Ozzie is after the lockout, he just reinvented himself. For three years he’s been a good goaltender. This year in the regular season he struggled. He was much like the rest of our team.

        In saying that, we have enough good players that we’re able to win games, but it was ugly lots of nights. When you’re the last line of defense, it’s ugly, it looks ugly.

        So, you know, you see that every year. There’s tons of players in our league now that have already holidayed, and they’re back and working hard, getting focused for next year. When you have a long, long run, it doesn’t matter what the coach says or what anyone says, how fresh when you come back, you’re worn out.

        It took him a while to get going. I think it snowballed on him in the wrong direction. But I thought he really battled. I thought his last 10 games gave us a better indication of what he was capable of. Then, like a lot of our players, they’ve been a lot better since the playoffs started.

        Q. Mike, you guys always talk about keeping your emotions in check, not retaliating. How hard is that to convince players or has that been instilled here so long that it isn’t that hard?

        MIKE BABCOCK: Well, it hasn’t been instilled so long. I mean, when you look back at the teams, prior to lockout, there was a lot more post?whistle toughness than we have. You know, I mean, McCarty looked after that. You go through the guys, lots of guys. We don’t have that post?whistle toughness stuff. We don’t have the dimension of it. If you don’t have it, you better find a different way to play. Why would you get distracted anyway?

        But what we have, I think we have an ability to play hard between the whistles and we try to do that. We try to forecheck hard. We try to stand up when we have the opportunity. And, you know, this series is a different series than the Anaheim one totally. There’s different kinds of toughness in the games. And yet I think our guys have done a good job of it.

        Q. Mike, you guys have, because of circumstances had to throw a lot at Ericsson in responsibility terms in these playoffs. You’ve always said you knew he had the ability. Are you impressed with the poise he’s shown in handling what you’ve thrown at him?

        MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, I think he’s a real good player. Obviously he’s not a kid. He’s 25. Kind of like Leino that way. They’ve been around a while. They’re probably more likely to handle it anyway. I mean, the subtle plays he makes, the little passes he makes, the way he can turn, and with his reach and his size, he can hold you off, still make long, penetrating passes is a great skill. Plus the touch plays he makes is important. As he gets more comfortable in the league, he’ll become a much more physical presence for us back there, which is real important.

        Q. How good a feeling is it as a coach when you do lose players of the caliber of Datsyuk and Draper to be able to throw out a combination of lines, guys that not only look like they can fill in, but step up and be ready to contribute in a big way? Obviously the depth of the organization and the way they develop the players.

        MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I think you got to give those guys credit. You know, over the years here, the last while, we’ve had real good coaches, whether it be Greg Ireland, Mike Stothers, Curt Fraser in the American League, which to me is so important.  Obviously they’re getting good players.

        The other thing I’d say to you, it’s way easier to replace quality players in the short?term than it is in the long?term, because everyone can lift their level for a period of time. But, you know, how you gonna play like Nik every night? I haven’t seen anybody play like Nik every night, except Nik.

        Q. Filppula’s advancement, how far he’s come, where he’s at? (Indiscernible) was saying the only thing he would like to see him do is shoot more. Do you share that?

        MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, I share that with him lots actually. He’s a lot like Pav that way. Pav never shot the puck either. As time goes on, I said this the other day, Pav was all over me in between periods during Game 3 to get the guys to shoot the puck. I thought that was ironic actually.

        But Fil is the same way. He’s always been a guy that passed the puck. What they learn over time is the best scorers shoot the puck. They have the dimension to their game that the puck comes off goalies. All you have to do is look at the pass Hossa made off the pads of Huet right to Fil. To me, that’s a great play. The great thing about that pass is all goalies, the way they play today on the lateral feed, they’re loaded and they’re pushing across. When you pass it off them, they’re locked up, so the net is empty.

        I think the more confidence he gets with his shot, and that’s what it is, you can tell them to shoot all they want, if they don’t think they’re going to score, they won’t shoot. That’s part of it. Fil was our second line center last year because we played Datsyuk and Zetterberg together. When we got Hossa, we separated them. Fil became our third line center. He probably played more minutes. I don’t know if that’s true, because I haven’t been through to check it out last year than this year. But sure at playoff time.

        He played head-to-head, whether it be against Malkin or Staal last year in the playoffs and did a real good job. I don’t think we’re surprised. We’re not surprised by his size or his speed or his ability defensively. It was nice for Hoss to have the kind of night he did the other night, then together the two of them with Homer at the net did a real good job.

        Q. There’s a report saying that Sergei Fedorov is about to sign with the Russian team, ending his NHL career. Do you feel his legacy, the Russian five, puck possession style, today in this organization?

        MIKE BABCOCK: You know, I wasn’t here for any of that. I don’t know. I just hear about it. When Sergei came to play for me in Anaheim, I remember Sergei always saying to me, I never have the puck, Mike, I never have the puck. The D never pass me the puck. I never have the puck.

        So I went back and I looked at our D. I compared to it Detroit’s D. I knew why he never had the puck. He couldn’t understand why we wanted to chip it ahead and race onto it all the time. Well, part of that is because if you don’t have these people, what are you going to do?
        Sergei has had a great career. I still think he can play in the league. I think he can play in the league here as a defenseman for sure. You know, I don’t know about the report.

        Q. Mike, with a couple days off, Chicago gets to sit on the fact this may be their last game of the season. Some of the guys in the locker room said we need to come out and play like it’s a Game 7. Is that the type of attitude you want?

        MIKE BABCOCK: We’ve been in a situation before. We lost two Game 5s last year. You set yourself up for anything’s possible. You know, everyone talks about a best of seven. It’s actually a real race to four. The quicker you get there, the better off you are. We have to be focused. We talked about that today. We’ll talk about that again tomorrow. We’ve got to be prepared.

        I thought we were really focused last game. I showed the guys today, I didn’t think we turned the puck over in the first period till it was 3:58 left, first time I thought we turned the puck over. To me that’s good focus. If you get prepared and start on time, you have a chance to be successful. If you don’t, you can be in trouble.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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