Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cory Emmerton: “It was one of those blooper type things.”

Stick stuck
DETROIT — Near the end of the first period, Cory Emmerton got his stick stuck between Jimmy Howard’s pad and leg.

“I didn’t know and I yanked on it and actually took his feet out from under him, that’s why I let it go,” Emmerton said. “I was like, ‘Jimmy! My stick!’ and he was like, ‘It’s stuck!’ yelling at me, so I tried to yell at the ref. Then Jimmy thankfully got it out, but I didn’t want to sit there and try and yank on my stick anymore.

“It was one of those blooper type things,” Emmerton added. “If you watch the video, he actually, like, does a twirl and falls. It was actually kind of funny looking back now. He wasn’t hurt or anything.”

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Eastern block of teams

DETROIT — Two of the Wings’ final four regular season games are against Eastern Conference teams, beginning Sunday against Florida.

“That doesn’t make any difference, no different than (Friday) night,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “As much as we were playing Nashville, the game had to be about us and that’s the same with the next games. It’s about improving our own game so we feel good about ourselves.”

On Thursday, they host New Jersey.

“We’ve got to take care of our own department and that’s our own games,” said Jimmy Howard, who will start against the Panthers. “It doesn’t matter who our competition is. We still need the points and we want to get back into that fourth position to have home ice here in the first round.”

Since the lockout, the Wings have never finished the season with two of their four games against teams from the East.

Mike Babcock: “I didn’t like (Pavel Datsyuk’s) line (Friday) night, I didn’t think it generated anything at all.”

DETROIT – Wings coach Mike Babcock made it abundantly clear after practice Saturday afternoon he wasn’t happy with his second and third forward lines in Friday’s loss to the Nashville Predators.

“I didn’t like (Pavel Datsyuk’s) line (Friday) night, I didn’t think it generated anything at all,” Babcock said. “The same with my third line, it didn’t generate a scoring chance. They’ve got to roll around and be physical and grind down low. We need an energy line that plays physical.”

With that said, Babcock practiced with Gustav Nyquist moved up on second line with Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, while Todd Bertuzzi played on the third line with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary.

“I didn’t think we got through the middle of the ice enough,” Babcock said. “We had good scoring chances but in the end we didn’t make it hard enough on them. The only line that generated anything even-strength wise was (Henrik) Zetterberg’s line. We got two chances out of (Cory) Emmerton’s line but we didn’t get much out of the other groups. If we want to do that we got to get through the middle of the rink better.”

Nyquist, who played a few shifts with Datsyuk on Friday in the third period, showed signs of brilliance skating with Datsyuk and Bertuzzi while Franzen was sidelined with back spasms. He had a goal and three assists over a four-game stretch.

“I think it would boost anyone’s confidence to play with them,” Nyquist said. “They’re great players. I think I’ve had some good chemistry in the past with both Pav and Mule. It’ll be fun if that happens.”

During his four-game point streak, Nyquist averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time. Since Franzen’s return, his ice time has been cut in half and he’s been held off the scoresheet.

“All season down in Grand Rapids I have been playing a lot (of minutes) and the seasons before that,” Nyquist said. “I’m probably more used to playing more minutes so it’s definitely fun when I get that chance. When I’m on the fourth line I’m taking advantage of those minutes I get and trying to provide some energy. Either way it’s fun to be out there.

“You just have to take it one day at a time,” Nyquist added. “When I’m up here I just try and do my best every day and play as hard as I can and develop. I just try and do my part to help the team. I just come to the rink everyday happy I’m up here. Wherever they want to play me I’ll play.”

Babcock continues to be impressed with what Nyquist brings to the team.

“He’s a top-six type of player,” Babcock said. “He just hasn’t played a whole bunch. Can he be strong enough on the puck, can he be gritty enough against the best people? If you’re going to play with Pavel, that’s what you have to do. A big part of growth on that line is Pav needing some help from the Mule as well and as Mule gets in better game shape again, he’ll give him better help.”

Defenseman Kyle Quincey will be back in the lineup Saturday, but Babcock didn’t know what defenseman would sit.

Quincey back in lineup; Nyquist moving to second line

DETROIT — Quick update from Wings practice.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey will be back in the lineup Sunday after being a healthy scratch Friday. It looks like Ian White may rest, but Wings coach Mike Babcock said he will decide which defenseman will sit tomorrow.

Also, Gustav Nyquist was moved up to the second line to skate with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, while Todd Bertuzzi dropped to the third line with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary.

Babcock said he wasn’t happy with either his second or third lines in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Nashville. He also said he won’t decide on his line combinations until Sunday.

Wings find themselves looking up at Predators in the standings now

DETROIT – The road isn’t where the Detroit Red Wings want to start the playoffs.

But it’s looking more and more like that’s where their quest for a 12th Stanley Cup in franchise history is going to begin after dropping a critical game to the Nashville Predators Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, 4-1.

The win moves the Predators (98 points) into the fourth seed in the Western Conference, a point ahead of Detroit in the Central Division.

Both teams have four games left in the regular season.

“I think we knew what was at stake coming in and right now we’re on the road for the first two games,” said goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 23 saves. “We’ve got to find a way in the last four to get back on top here.”

The Wings, who split the six-game season series with the Predators, have homes games with Florida, New Jersey and Chicago, sandwiched between a road game at St. Louis.

Nashville has homes games left with Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas before closing the regular season on the road in Colorado.

“We have four more games here to get that figured out and we’ll be ready to go by the playoffs,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We got a lot of scoring chances. We hit the post, I missed the open net, but Pekka Rinne was good. He made some good saves in some key moments. We knew he was a good goalie.”

Rinne made 31 saves for Nashville, which got goals from Gabriel Bourque, Francis Bouillon, Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber.

Jiri Hudler spoiled Rinne’s bid for a fifth shutout of the season, scoring with 3:03 left in the third period.

“It doesn’t mean anything right now,” said Weber, who scored an empty-net goal. “It gives us some confidence that we can come in here and win. If we don’t win against Chicago (Saturday), we’ll be back in the same situation with Detroit right on us.”

The loss also eliminates the Wings’ chances of winning the Central Division.

Nashville still has a slim shot at catching St. Louis for the division crown. The Blues have 106 points with four games left on their schedule.

The Blackhawks, who also has four games left, is just two points behind Detroit.

“The score wasn’t flattering for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we did lots of good things. It was kind of like the game that I expected. I didn’t think there would be much room for either team and I didn’t think there was.”

Howard, who has played in just nine of the last 26 games, is now 1-5-2 since returning from a broken index finger. He has also been sidelined two different times with a strained groin since retuning.

“We’ve got to play Howie lots,” Babcock said. “I don’t know if he’ll play all four, but he’s playing three for sure, whether he plays the back-to-back I don’t know. We’ve got to get him to the highest possible level and just overall.”

The win was also the Predators’ 500th in franchise history, along with coach Barry Trotz, who is the only coach Nashville has had.

Trotz is just the fifth coach to reach 500 wins with a single franchise.

“A great accomplishment, all of us are proud of him for what he did,” said Predators forward David Legwand, who has been there from the start with Trotz.

The Predators scored three times in a span of just under 16 minutes before the midway point of the second period.

They got on the board first with just over seven minutes left in the second period.

Jordin Tootoo raced to keep a puck in the Wings’ zone and fed it to Bourque, who got a shot through a screen to beat Howard.

The Predators went up 2-0 with 33 seconds left in the period.

Danny Cleary failed to clear a puck and a mad scramble ensued in front of Howard moments later. Bouillon dug out the loose puck and wristed a shot top shelf and just inside the goal post.

Radulov all but iced the game early in the third period, finding a seam through the middle and banging home a pass from Andrei Kostitsyn after he came out from behind the Wings’ goal.

“I thought it was one of those games when you score first you get a little bit better,” Babcock said. “When the game got to be two I didn’t think we had much opportunity and obviously the mistake that we made on the third one. I thought the second goal we had poor D-zone coverage. It was after a power play when we were real good; it was poor D zone coverage and they scored on it. Then it was the same thing on the third goal.”

A minute after failing behind 1-0, Detroit failed to convert on back-to-back power plays. Henrik Zetterberg had the best chance on the second man advantage, but Rinne reached behind to close off a wide open net and grab the shot of the Wings forward.

The Wings’ power play had gone 4-for-10 over its last two games.

Detroit had a couple of nice scoring chances on its first power play of the game, the best coming when Nicklas Lidstrom rang one off the post to the left of Rinne. The puck however shot right back out and underneath the Predators’ netminder and he covered up with 40 seconds left in the Wings’ man advantage.

Kyle Quincey: “Obviously you want to be playing, you’re a hockey player. I would like to be playing.”

DETROIT — Defenseman Kyle Quincey perplexed in being a healthy scratch tonight against Nashville.

“I don’t know what the plan is,” Quincey said when asked if there was a rotation on the blue line. “You guys are telling me more than I know. I’ll just come to the rink everyday and work hard.

“I’m not surprised,” Quincey added. “We have seven great D. It is what it is. Obviously you want to be playing, you’re a hockey player. I would like to be playing.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said this was the plan all along with the defensemen.

“We have seven D, we believe we really have depth,” Babcocks said. “I told the D before the Columbus game we’re going to have a rotation. I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about that. I thought Kuba’s been playing great his last 5-6 games so you’ll see a different guy out the next game.

“Anytime you come to a new team you try to settle down and get playing, but I think he’s been fine,” Babcock continued. “He probably mirrors our team. Our team hasn’t been great. We haven’t given up a bunch during this stretch, 26 shots a game, but we’re not scoring goals. Anytime you make a mistake when you don’t score goals, you look like you made a mistake. So I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about this. We’re going to have everybody ready to go come playoff time.”

Howard excited to be back

DETROIT — After just playing in three of the Wings’ 11 games, Jimmy Howard is excited to get back into action tonight against the Nashville Predators.

“I’m just going out there and forgetting about the past here, the last month and a half,” Howard said. “I think I’m prepared, I’ve been working hard to get back there, I’ve been working hard on the ice. I’m just going to go out there and play.”

With two groin injuries and a broken index finger, Howard has played in just eight of the Wings’ last 25 games.

“Everyone wants to feel great going into the playoffs,” Howard said. “What’s going to be key for me over the next four games is getting back to where I was before the injuries. Today was the date from the start we were targeting. Four to five games left, chance to get back out there and get into game shape.”

The team wanted to wait until Howard’s groin was fully healed before rushing him back.

“The second time around we took a different approach, more strengthening it, it feels a lot stronger out there,” Howard said. “I know what I’m capable of doing out there. It’s just going out there and doing it again. Being on and off for a month a half and not playing a lot, but I’ve been able to practice a lot. I think that’s key for me because I always practice the way I play, going out there and working hard translates into games.”