The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/05/14 at 03:57 AM ET
If there is any consolation in the Red Wings' 4-3 loss to Martin Brodeur (farewell, Martin?) and the New Jersey Devils, which involved Daniel Alfredsson losing teeth, Darren Helm succumbing to an "upper-body injury" and brutal defensive performances not only from the Wings' top pairing, but the "kid line" of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, and in all honesty, the vast majority of their teammates--as well as the Wings losing ground to Toronto, Columbus, Washington, Ottawa and of course New Jersey in the Wild Card race...
1. The Red Wings will be able to put this game behind them in a hurry given that they host the Avalanche on Nicklas Lidstrom jersey retirement night (the Wings now have a special webpage dedicated to the affair), and then get another chance to push the Devils behind them on Friday;
2. And I still vividly remember how the Wings laid several eggs when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames during "Mikka Kiprusoff farewell night," prior to going on quite the winning streak to end their 2013 season.
The Wings' second and third games in 4 nights on Thursday and Friday are part of a 5-games-in-8-days slate, so you, I and the Wings will find out whether the team can put what was essentially a delayed Olympic hangover game behind them, but I'm gonna be as impolite as possible regarding the numerous stories regarding Martin Brodeur's legacy in what may have been his final game as a New Jersey Devil:
Brodeur may rank highly in my heart despite having defeated "my" Wings in 1995 because he's the last stand-up goalie in the NHL, plying his trade playing a style that I believe is an elegant, if less effective, alternative to the robotic butterfly...
But my ass has to get up and cover the trade deadline with Paul later today, as well as the lead-up to Nicklas Lidstrom's jersey retirement (the Wings will be holding a presser at 3:30 PM today, and they're practicing at noon), so I'm worried about "my team."
Which Brodeur beat yet again, dammit.
He's not the goalie he used to be, but Brodeur's still superb, and yes, I'll give the New York Times' Jeff Z. Klein the time of day here, but other than that, it's my blog, and I'm sticking to the *#$%@& disappointing game's narrative, and then hauling my ass to bed, hoping that I don't find myself a zombie before Thursday's big party begins. Self-preservation ain't a bad thing, and the next 72 hours are going to be nuts for me, so pardon my being blunt and honest.
Anyway, here's Klein on Brodeur's possible farewell:
Martin Brodeur stood smiling, a Devil for at least one more night.
“A lot of people were putting it out there that this might be my last game,” Brodeur said after helping the Devils beat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3, Tuesday, hours before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. “If it is, I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could.”
Brodeur is no longer the great goalie he was for so many years, but he is still the face of the franchise. So, just as he had 1,249 times before, Brodeur took his place in the Devils’ crease for a regular-season game, and the fans at Prudential Center turned out to pay tribute just in case it was his last in a Devils uniform.
The chanted his name before the national anthem and at several points during the game. A woman in the corner held a sign against the glass that read, “Marty, Don’t Leave Us.” The fans chanted for him again after Stephen Gionta scored the winning goal with 37 seconds left in regulation, and after Brodeur made the last of his 20 saves in a game the Devils had to win to stay viable in the playoff hunt. They trail Columbus by 2 points for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff berth.
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” he said. “I’ve been killing myself to try to say to myself that I can still play this game. I just need the opportunity.”
The day was filled with rumors about where Brodeur might go, including one that he would be traded to Minnesota, where his twin sons attend prep school. But that rumor was quashed when another goalie, Edmonton’s Ilya Bryzgalov, was dealt to Minnesota. So late Tuesday night, Brodeur was still a Devil.
“I prepared myself the same way,” Brodeur said of his game-day routine. “But I had to shut off my phone early today so I could concentrate.”
The reality of the situation is that this was a "four-point game," and the Devils took it from a sudden rival, as Brodeur told the Newark Star-Ledger's Randy Miller (who also penned a list of "Studs and Duds"):
Q: You guys earned an important 2 points.
Brodeur: “We played well. It was a big win. At the end of the day, we didn’t give up any points to Detroit, and it’s a team that we’re chasing. It was a big goal there by Gio at the end.”
Yes, the Devils were proud of their goalie, as they told the Newark Star-Ledger's Rich Chere...
Were his teammates playing as if it was his last game for the Devils?
“Hard to say,” captain Bryce Salvador suggested. “The game was so important. Maybe it is Marty’s last game as a Devil. If it’s his last game, all the better.”
Jaromir Jagr was happy for Brodeur.
“It’s good for Marty,” Jagr said. “I truly hope he’s staying. Whatever is good for him, I’m with that. I want to see him be happy. He’ll be back anyway.”
But the Devils were also proud of taking the first of what they hope will be a clean sweep of Detroit--again...
The Devils and Red Wings meet again Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. Addressing an unusually large media crowd in the dressing room after the game, Brodeur said: “The Stanley Cup Finals is the last time I had all this. Good memories.”
[Devils coach Pete] DeBoer on the trade deadline: “We didn’t address it. We have not talked about the trade deadline at all. We’re just going about business trying to win games. We were concentrating on the Red Wings and when we got into the game it was about finding some energy. They were really skating in the first two periods. I thought the first period we were standing around watching and I thought the second period we got a little bit better. In the third we started to move and play our game.”
The Devils out-shot Detroit 14-4 in the third period, and Detroit gave the puck away 12 times--and the Devils took it away 7 more times.
When the Red Wings pulled goalie Jimmy Howard, Martin Brodeur thought about trying for a goal.
“For a second,” he said. “After that I said, ‘It’s not worth it.’ Ten years ago I would have, though.”
Adam Henrique said: “I thought he was going to go for an empty netter. That would’ve been great. I thought he’d try it.”
The game wasn't decided by Brodeur alone, as the New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis noted in a sans-quotes recap...
Before the national anthem could begin, Brodeur was serenaded with his first “Mart-y, Mart-y” chants of the night, and his team took very little time to give him a boost. With just 27 seconds gone by, Adam Henrique skated to the net and managed to sneak one by Howard, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead and Henrique his fifth goal in the past four games, tying him with Jagr for the team lead with 19.
Yet the Red Wings soured the party after Devils captain Bryce Salvador took a boarding penalty midway through the first. On the power play, Dainius Zubrus had the puck stolen by Franzen, who made a spectacular move from behind the net, around defenseman Andy Greene, and fired the puck up over Brodeur’s right shoulder to tie it 1-1.
The Devils got down in the second period just after seven minutes in when Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith found an open space in the slot, and when Justin Abdelkader found him, Smith fired one over Brodeur’s glove for a 2-1 Red Wings advantage. Brodeur kept things close when he made a sprawling save on Bertuzzi.
Entering the third period down 2-1, the Devils took advantage of an early third-period power play, as Patrik Elias charged the net after Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard had gloved a soft Marek Zidlicky shot. Elias took a swipe at Howard’s pads, and then defenseman Jonathan Ericsson inadvertently had his stick sweep up and hook Howard’s glove, sending the puck up and over the goal line, tying it 2-2.
After much protest, the goal was upheld, and the Devils had momentum. Just under six minutes later, that was converted when Jaromir Jagr took a long shot and Travis Zajac corralled the rebound, firing a nifty backhand into the upper corner for the 3-2 lead.
That was quickly wiped out when the Red Wings got a power play with 10:30 remaining, and just 13 seconds into the man advantage, Johan Franzen took a shot that deflected off Todd Bertuzzi’s skate and beat Brodeur to tie it 3-3.
Then "Gio" took advantage of the Kid Line, as the Bergen Record's Gulitti noted:
Stephen Gionta was the hero of the night deflecting defenseman Mark Fayne’s right point shot past goaltender Jimmy Howard with just 36.6 seconds left in regulation to snap a 3-3 tie.
“That’s a team that we’re chasing, we’re right behind and we knew coming into this game that it’s a huge two points for us, especially (because) we’re playing them again on Friday,” Gionta said.
With Columbus defeating Dallas 4-2 tonight, the Blue Jackets are now the team the Devils are chasing. They trail them by two points for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and the second wild card in the East. Detroit is now one point out of a playoff spot, but has two games in hand on the Devils and one on Columbus.
“It was a playoff game. We needed that win,” Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. “Detroit’s right there with us fighting for that wild card there and we need points. Maybe it was a little emotional just from the fact that we came out not the way we wanted to and here between the first and second we were definitely not happy with the way we came out. In the second period, we started going a bit and in the third period I felt like we were going.”
That Gionta was able to score the winner before the end of regulation was important too because it prevented the Red Wings from earning a point by reaching overtime.
“I would have taken it anyway tonight based on how I felt our team felt,” DeBoer said. “But to win in regulation was huge.”
Gionta soaked in the atmosphere, too, as NHL.com's Dan Rosen noted
The fans were electric throughout, and for good reason. Not only was it a critical game in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but there had been speculation during the day that the game might mark the final appearance for Brodeur in a Devils jersey.
"We know the circumstances right now with what's left in the season and what we have to do to climb that mountain to the playoffs," Gionta said. "That's just one step right there."
The Devils felt that they prevailed in a grind-fest...
"We've been playing better since we came out of the Olympic break," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We're creating more chances, and the puck is going in. We have another big game on Friday and we'll need to keep playing the same way."
"It was grind, a trap game for us against a rested team," DeBoer said. "We had trouble finding the energy and in the third dug deep and outshot them, which was great considering how the game began."
But the Wings were pissed off about being out-played, if not out-classed, in the 3rd:
"They were better than us in the third," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We had lot of good efforts, but we didn't execute. It's 36 seconds away from getting a point, so we have to execute better."
The Devils and Wings continued in the Associated Press's recap, which we'll use as our pivot point between the Devils and Wings' perspectives:
"That's a game we can't lose," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I would have taken (a win any way). Winning in regulation was huge."
Johan Franzen, Brendan Smith and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings against Brodeur, who has been the subject of trade rumors leading up to Wednesday's deadline.
"We'll see what's going to happen," said Brodeur, who has a no-trade clause and stated he wasn't asked to waive it.
Gionta put the Devils ahead for good when he tipped Mark Fayne's point shot past Jimmy Howard for the winning goal.
"It's always nice scoring goals, especially one that can help out the team in a big way," Gionta said.
Howard finished with 25 saves.
"It's not what we wanted to see happen here," Howard said. "To let one slip away is frustrating."
Howard wasn't fantastic, but Jonathan Ericsson helped put goals #1 and #4 behind him, and in the middle, everybody turned over pucks as the Devils got in on the forecheck and kept picking off the Wings' passes from the goal line or side boards to the slot, looking like the San Jose Sharks in schooling Detroit while turning the neutral zone into a picket fence and predating upon both the kid line, the fourth line, and after Helm left, Abdelkader and Alfredsson (despite the fact that the pair sure as hell tried to help give Franzen, Nyquist and Bertuzzi support in the offensive department).
The Wings were pissed off about dropping two points, as they told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"It hurt," said Daniel Alfredsson, who easily could have been talking about the several teeth he lost in the second period when a swinging stick clipped his mouth. "We battled hard tonight. Any time you lose a game at the end, it's a tough one."
But leading 2-1 entering the final period, the Red Wings also felt as if they gave at least one point, maybe two, away in the standings. This was a winnable game.
"When you let point slip away it's frustrating," said goalie Jimmy Howard, who believed his team let this one slip away. "I believe so. Up 2-1 on the road, playing well, especially in the second period, and then a bad bounce for us and good bounce for them and the game turns."
The question now for Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is will this particular outcome have any effect on the Red Wings heading into Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline? Never mind the standings, the Red Wings may have gotten further decimated at center.
Already without Pavel Datsyuk (knee) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery), Darren Helm didn't come out for the third period because of what the Red Wings called an upper body injury. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.
"I just know (trainer) Piet (Van Zant) told me he wasn't going out (for the third period)," coach Mike Babcock said. "We've had a lot of that around here. We'll know more (Wednesday)."
Kulfan believes that the fact that Joakim Andersson, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening are the remaining natural centers (though Drew Miller and Franzen can play the position, as can Nyquist, frankly) might force the team to enage in a "rental" trade.
That's not what the Wings were worried about, as they told the Free Press's Helene St. James--they were worried about the defensive mistakes they made as individuals and a team instead:
"This is a game we should have won,” Johan Franzen said. “If we just keep paying attention to details out there, we’d win this game. We can’t let us off the hook. We’ve got to feel like we should win these games, because we should.”
The loss bumped the Wings from the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It hurt,” Daniel Alfredsson said. “I thought we battled hard and any time you lose a game in the end, it’s a tough one. Even when they went up, 3-2, I thought we didn’t pack it in. ... Overall it’s a decent game, but we shouldn’t lose it the way we did.”
Alfredsson has an appointment this morning with a dentist after losing some teeth in the second period; like the veteran he is, he stopped to pick up the remnants, but, “I don’t know what good they will do,” he said.
The Wings are less sure of what’s next for Darren Helm; he didn’t play after the second period because of an upper-body injury. Coach Mike Babcock said he was told only that Helm wasn’t returning, noting, “We’ve got a lot of that around here.”
Babcock accentuated the positive while speaking with St. James, who also posited a capsule recap...
“It’s 36 seconds away from getting a point and maybe a chance for a win in OT,” Babcock said. “But points are hard to come by. We understand that. We’ve just got to stay positive and dig in.”
“They had more jump, they executed better, they were on top of our D,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t execute good enough, we didn’t have enough guys that looked like they were poised and calm with the puck, and in the end it cost us.”
Jaromir Jagr didn’t get an assist on the winning but he started the play by getting a shot off when the Red Wings gave him too much time and space.
“He’s the wrong guy to let get the chances,” Franzen said. “When he’s out there, we should play (the whole) shift in their end just to make sure he’s not doing something stupid in our end.”
Said Babcock: “We also over-back-checked. All the forward (Justin Abdelkader) has to do was stop up top, (but) you panic a little and run down low and try to do someone else’s job and it goes to the top and ends up in the net.”
Marek Zidlicky set the tone for the third period, getting credited with the tying goal on the power play at the 41-second mark.
“I caught it in front of me and (Patrik) Elias just sort of pitch-forked the glove and it came flying out of there,” Howard said.
No, it was Ericsson, but still.
Niklas Kronwall continued the self-critical push while speaking with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“At the end of the day we didn’t play well enough defensively to win this game,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “At the beginning of the third, for whatever reason, we didn’t want the puck enough, didn’t play enough, didn’t make the simple play when it was there.”
And Babcock had this to say about Johan Franzen's continued offensive roll...
“We need him, all you have to do is look at our crew,” Babcock said. “We need him to be good but we need lots of guys to be good. I don’t think through 20 (minutes) we were as good as we could be tonight. We’ve played a lot of good hockey. This, to me, wasn’t one of our strongest games, so we got to get back at it.”
Before pondering what went wrong in the 3rd:
New Jersey tied the score at 2-2 when Zidlicky was credited with scoring a power-play goal at 41 seconds of the final period. Less than six minutes later the Devils took their second one-goal lead when Zajac flipped a backhand shot from a difficult angle that beat a fallen Jimmy Howard.
The third period has been difficult to figure out for the Red Wings. They have now been outscored 67-52 in third periods and overtime this season.
“They scored a power-play goal, we took a penalty at the end of the period,” Babcock said. “I didn’t like the call but it doesn’t matter if I like the call or don’t. You got to kill those off.”
“To let points slip away like that is frustrating,” said Howard, who made 25 saves. “Up 2-1 on the road we were playing well, especially in the second period and then bad bounce for us, a good bounce for them and the game turned the other way.”
"It's incredible to watch. He just does what he wants. The first goal didn't take any effort. We don't practice that," says teammate Niklas Kronwall when we meet him afterwards.
The 34-year-old native of Smaland just shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, it's going pretty well right now, I have a little confidence," he siad.
But "Frasse" was a pissed off Mule:
"Yeah, there were too many mistakes in the third period, it was a bit of a pity," said "Frasse."
Kronwall was more frank.
"We gave away the victory. The third period was miserable, we couldn't make a pass onto each other's sticks. It can't look like this," he says.
Highlights: MSG Network posted a 4:20 clip of highlights and post-game analysis;
And NHL.com's highlights are narrated by the Devils' broadcasters:
Post-game: MSG Network posted a post-game interview with Brodeur, comments from Stephen Gionta, Travis Zajac, Jaromir Jagr and Bryce Salvador, as well as Devils coach Pete DeBoer's post-game press conference,
If you wish to watch Gionta speak with the NHL Tonight via their Arena Cam, you may most certainly do so;
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Johan Franzen--who has a pretty cool Nike "DET" hat--and Daniel Alfredsson, who's seeing a dentist later this morning:
Fox Sports Detroit posted a video of Niklas Kronwall's post-game comments:
And the Red Wings' website posted comments from Kronwall...
Photos: The Detroit Free Press posted a 23-image gallery;
The Detroit News posted a 12-image gallery;
The Newark Star-Ledger posted a 46-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 75-image gallery;
Shots: 29-23 Devils overall. Detroit was out-shot 8-7 in the 1st period, the Wings out-shot the Devils 12-7 in the 2nd and were out-shot 14-4 in the 3rd period.
Special teams: The Wings went 2-for-4 in 5:36 of PP time; the Devils went 1-for-3 in 4:45, including 0-for-1 in 17 seconds of 5 on 3 time.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 29 shots for Detroit; Martin Brodeur stopped 20 of 23 shots for New Jersey.
The 3 stars were picked by the "Attending Media," and they were Adam Henrique, Johan Franzen and Stephen Gionta.
The Wings' goals: Franzen (13), unassisted, PPG;
Smith (2) from Abdelkader (16);
Bertuzzi (8) from Franzen (17) and Nyquist (13), PPG.
Faceoffs 27-22 Detroit (Detroit won 55%);
Blocked shots 6-6;
Missed shots 6-6 (total attempts 41-35 New Jersey; Wings fired 23 on Brodeur and 12 wide/blocked);
Hits 18-17 New Jersey;
Giveaways 12-8 Detroit;
Faceoffs: Sheahan went 6-and-6 (50%); Glendening went 7-and-4 (54%); Andersson went 6-and-4 (60%); Helm went 5-and-4 (56%); Franzen went 3-and-3 (50%); Abdelkader lost his only faceoff.
Shots: Bertuzzi led the Wings with 5 shots; Alfredsson and Tatar had 3; Nyquist, Glendening, Ericsson and Franzen had 2; Smith, Andersson, Kronwall and DeKeyser had 1.
Blocked attempts: Alfredsson hit Devils players 2 times; Glendening, Helm, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1 attempt blocked.
Missed shots: Glendening missed the net 2 times; Alfredsson, Sheahan, Lashoff and Franzen missed the net 1 time.
Hits: Kronwall led the Wings with 4 hits; Glendening had 3; Abdelkader, Alfredsson, Miller and Ericsson had 2; Jurco and Franzen had 1.
Giveaways: Bertuzzi had 3 giveaways; Nyquist and Jurco had 2; Smith, Quincey, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Franzen had 1.
Takeaways: Smith, Lashoff, Glendening, Bertuzzi, Ericsson, Kronwall, DeKeyser and Franzen had takeaways.
Blocked opponent shots: Smith, Miller, Tatar, Quincey, Ericsson, Kronwall and Franzen blocked 1 shot.
Penalties taken: Quincey took 2 minors; Lashoff and Glendening took 1 minor penalty.
Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -10. Sheahan, Jurco, Ericsson and Kronwall were -2; Abdelkader, Tatar, Quincey, Helm and DeKeyser were -1; Smith, Lashoff and Glendening were +1.
Points: Franzen had a goal and an assist for 2 points; Smith and Bertuzzi had goals; Abdelkader and Nyquist had assists.
Ice time: Kronwall led the Wings with 26:01 played; Ericsson played 23:38; Franzen played 20:43;
DeKeyser played 19:44; Quincey played 18:29; Nyquist played 18:53;
Alfredsson played 17:30; Andersson played 17:04; Abdelkader played 14:51;
Sheahan played 14:25; Lashoff played 14:10; Glendening played 13:49;
Jurco played 13:48; Tatar played 13:38; Bertuzzi played 13:21;
Smith played 13:18; Miller played 11:51; Helm played 10:22.
Red Wings notebooks: The Kid Line may be "all right," but it also wasn't very good on Tuesday, and the Free Press's Helene St. James pondered the learning curves Tatar, Jurco, Sheahan and Glendening face as the Wings face tremendous pressure to make the playoffs for the 23rd season:
“I can’t even imagine NHL playoffs without the Red Wings,” Tatar said. “It’s a huge era we’ve been there. Nobody wants to miss it.”
It’ll be a tough task to accomplish with so many players light on experience. The Wings don’t have Henrik Zetterberg, who is out at least through the regular season after undergoing back surgery. Pavel Datsyuk remains bothered by an inflamed left knee that has resisted treatment since December. He’s technically day-to-day, but the team cannot count on having him available. Stephen Weiss is also out indefinitely, and Darren Helm left Tuesday’s game with an injury.
That’s forced the younger generation into bigger roles – Andersson was the top-line center against the Devils, while Tatar, Sheahan and Jurco served as the second line.
“I expect the guys who play in their spots to just do what they do, don’t worry about being Pav or Z,” Babcock said. Babcock has preached being positive about who is available, not frustrated about who’s unavailable, because it’s the only sensible approach. The young guys will make mistakes and they’ll be inconsistent but overall, they have improved the Wings, making them faster. “Are they going to have a good night every night?” Babcock said. “No, but they look like real good players and we’re playing them.”
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan talked deadline turkey:
"It’s pretty difficult to step up and trade high draft picks and real top prospects in order to get short-term players when you’re not really sure about some key components of your team,” Holland said.
The Red Wings aren’t willing to trade a high-round draft pick, nor very interested in parting with a promising young player in Grand Rapids — of which there are quite a few. If some team is interested to make what Holland calls a “hockey deal”, he’d listen, again skipping the rental route for players headed for unrestricted free agency. Holland would like to get a player who will be with the Red Wings for a while.
“A trade where you can aquire a player that’s going to be on your roster in September (next season),” said Holland, although for all the talk around the league of teams interested in player-for-player trades, they have been few and far between heading into today’s deadline.
Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler, a Livonia native, has two years remaining on his contract at $5 million per season and would add an element of grit and skill the Red Wings could use. But the Canucks’ asking price is reportedly steep (roster player, high-end prospect, first-round pick), and likely one the Red Wings will pass on.
The Red Wings are set at goaltender, and Holland likes the depth of talent among the forwards with the emergence of young players such as Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening.
If the Red Wings are to make a deal by the deadline, it’ll likely be for a defenseman, preferably a top-four-caliber defenseman — although the price tag for such a player will not be cheap.
I'm a bit baffled as to why so many Wings fans who wanted all the kids to play suddenly want to trade them away, but that's just me.
Update: NHL.com's Dan Rosen's "Over the Boards" column focuses on the Wings' pre-game comments regarding the playoff streak:
"There is nothing else in mind for the Red Wings than the playoffs," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "I wouldn't want to be part of the team that breaks that tradition."
The lineup that will try to keep the playoff tradition alive now consists of nine players 25 years old or younger, including five top-nine forwards in Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson.
None of the nine players has 100 games on his NHL resume, and Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco and fourth-line center Luke Glendening have never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Defensemen Brian Lashoff and Danny DeKeyser have combined to play in five playoff games.
But the expectation in Detroit is no different with them in the lineup than it would be if Zetterberg and Datsyuk were healthy. The Red Wings plan to make the playoffs. They're banking on it. In fact, coach Mike Babcock even said as much during his press conference immediately after winning the gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"We gotta get ready to get in the playoffs," he said. "I just know we're finding a way. I don't know quite how we're doing it, but we're finding a way."
Babcock's optimism reverberates throughout the Detroit dressing room. The players feel the same way he does. They can't even contemplate the alternative.
"We don't even want to think that we're not going to be there, so we're taking it as a for-sure thing," Tatar told NHL.com.
"This is Detroit, that's what we do here, we get into the playoffs," Nyquist said. "It's been like that for 22 years, and we're looking to get the 23rd here. We have nothing else in mind than to be in the playoffs once the regular season is over."
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