The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/24/13 at 11:42 PM ET
Very briefly: the Red Wings didn't arrive in Chicago until the NHL announced the following...
"The starting time for a potential Game 6 of the series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, if necessary, has been set for 8 p.m. ET on Monday in Detroit."
But the Wings were very blunt about the concept that the pressure they face to take the Blackhawks out on Saturday night comes from within, and that they're well aware of the fact that the Blackhawks will not go down easily, as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted:
“Pressure? No, pressure’s for tires, that’s the old saying,” said forward Daniel Cleary, while speaking to reporters at the Red Wings’ team downtown hotel Friday afternoon. “Our thing is it’s a race to four. Those guys are champions, they’re winners, they know the toughest game ever is to try and eliminate a team. We have to be ready. It’s going to be the hardest game we’ve played all season.”
The Red Wings certainly know what it’s like to have their backs against the wall. It was just two weeks ago that they faced elimination at home in Game 6 against Anaheim. But the Ducks couldn’t close out the Wings, who are now one win away from knocking off the top-seeded Blackhawks.
“As a team here, the last two weeks and so far in the playoffs we’ve done a lot of good things,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We did a few bad things. We lost a lead in the third a couple times, we won a few in overtimes. I think we got a lot of experience the last month or so and I think it’s good for the club.”
The experience has paid off, especially for the young players, who together, are experiencing the highs and lows of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in their careers.
“I think it’s a great learning experience for some of our younger players who haven’t been in an elimination game,” Cleary said. “We’ve got a lot of us that have, that have gotten through it, that have been eliminated. I think for us, learning anything? All I know is it will be the hardest game. Being on the other side of it that’s how it always is, how it should be.”
The Wings understand that the Hawks want to just win Game 5 and go from there, as they told MLive's Brendan Savage, but Detroit also believes that it has more to give...
"Of course that would be our goal," said veteran forward Daniel Cleary. "It's a race to four. We feel we're in a good position. We also understand Chicago is a great team. They're loaded with champions, with winners, guys who know what it takes. Their leadership group I'm sure is talking. 'We've won three games in a row all season.' That's what they're trying to do. That's what they got to do."
If the Blackhawks win Game 5, they would send the series back to Detroit for Game 6 Monday night at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings have won four straight games dating back to their seven-game series with Anaheim in the opening round. Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday at the United Center, where the Blackhawks have a 22-4-3 record this season. That includes their Game 2 loss to the Red Wings.
But the Red Wings know they would be taking a huge chance by letting the series go the distance.
"Of course we want to win the next game," said captain Henrik Zetterberg. "We know the fourth win is always the toughest one. We need to come out, play good from the start and sort it out."
Scoring the first goal is important because it's been a good sign for the Red Wings in the playoffs. In their seven playoff victories against Anaheim and Chicago, they've scored first in five of them including the last two against the Blackhawks.
"The start is important every night," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "I didn't think we were very good (in Game 4). We gave up 14 shots and were very loose last night in the first period, turned the puck over and weren't sharp. We got better as the game went on,We got eight (shots) in the second and six in the third, so we need to start on time tomorrow, for sure. I think when you're on the road that first 10 minutes is always important."
Cleary agreed with his coach, who told the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness that the team's got to worry about itself first and foremost:
“The lead is important, the start is important,” Cleary said. “You want to go out and play a good road game. Their building is going to be loud and we have to keep our minds real sharp and play real loose. We can’t play tight.”
Since the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced in 1985-86, the Wings are 2-1 in the playoffs against the team that won it. They beat Colorado (1997) and Dallas (1998) and lost to Edmonton (1987).
“I guess the way that I look at it is when you’re coaching and playing it usually doesn’t matter to you what the people on the outside think,” Babcock said when asked about being in a position that no one felt they would be at against the Blackhawks. “It matters what you think and we think we have a good group and we’re determined to keep playing and we have a tough task ahead of us but we’re excited for our opportunity.”
“It’s like every game that you play in the playoffs, it’s the most important one that you can play and they get harder and harder,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the team hotel in downtown Chicago. “We know that they’re a desperate team. I’d like to think that we’ll be desperate as well. You want to be as prepared as the opportunity is important and we have to play that hard.”
After dropping Game 1, 4-1, Detroit has won the last three games in the series, outscoring Chicago by a combined 9-2 over that stretch.
“It’s important, but it’s also the most difficult, knocking a team out of the playoffs,” goalie Jimmy Howard. “You’re expecting them to come out and play extremely hard, extremely urgent (Saturday) night and we’re going to have to be extremely focused at the same time.”
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.