DETROIT >> Having a possible two points and for sure one slip away from them Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings view Wednesday’s home against the Boston Bruins as a crucial one.
“We need it big time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the standings. As soon as you’re below the line you’re not in a good spot. We’re below the line.”
The line Babcock is talking about is the playoff cutoff line. The Wings are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points out of the eighth and final playoffs spot.
The Bruins are in worse shape, dipping to 1-3-0 after allowing a last-second goal against Colorado on home ice, Monday.
Detroit beat Boston, 2-1, in the season opener and the lost, 3-2 to Anaheim on Saturday after allowing a goal in the final minute of regulation.
“Our work ethic, speed, tenacity and depth up front,” Babcock said when asked about what he’s liked about his team thus far. “I thought we played pretty well (Saturday), but you don’t get any moral victories in this league. Boston and us have both lost games in the last second recently. Both teams really need wins.”
Boston has also been outscored 9-4 through four games.
Babcock will keep his lines intact he’s went with in practice all week, which moves Gustav Nyquist to the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, while dropping Justin Abdelkader down to the third line with Darren Helm and Andrej Nestrasil.
Nyquist has half of the Wings’ goals this season, while Franzen has three assists. Abdelkader is the only other multi point player on the roster with a goal and an assist.
One line Babcock needs more out of is Riley Sheahan, who centers Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.
“After game one I really liked them, after game two I didn’t like them as much,” Babcock said. “They still generated, but they generated for both teams. I don’t want them to generate for the other team.”
Sheahan and his linemate were unable to get the job done Saturday against the Ducks’ Ryan Kesler.
“I just want them to play well offensively for us and really good without it,” Babcock said. “Every shift in the game great things aren’t going to happen. Some are 50-50. You’ve got to pick your spots, but you’ve got to be heavy on the puck. You can’t be turning pucks over.”
Pavel Datsyuk will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury. Stephen Weiss, Daniel Cleary and Brian Lashoff are healthy scratches.
Datsyuk, who was expected to miss roughly four weeks from the time he suffered a separated shoulder on Sept. 22, doesn’t seem like he’ll be available for the home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and Saturday.