DETROIT – The Red Wings want home-ice advantage at least for the first-round of the playoffs.
A win at home Friday night against the Nashville Predators will go a long way to making that a reality for Detroit.
The Wings are a point ahead of Nashville for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams have five games left in the regular season.
“It’s going to be like a playoff game,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “There’s a big chance that whoever wins is going to have home ice. We all know what’s at stake.”
“I think anyone going into the playoffs, obviously, you’d like to have that home-ice advantage if it comes down to it, but the biggest key for us right now is to get our game on track and just stick to what we talk about,” Niklas Kronwall said.
The Wings, who likely won’t catch St. Louis for first in the Central Division, are four points up on Chicago. The Blackhawks played the Blues on Thursday.
“It’s an important game, you just have to look at the standings to see that,” Brad Stuart said. “We have to get our urgency level up and make sure we’re feeling good going into the playoffs. After the last game I don’t think any of us are feeling good about what happened. We have to get that turned around.”
The Wings are coming off a very disappointing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday. The Blue Jackets are the worst team in the league and had just lost 7-2 on Monday at Joe Louis Arena.
“When your team competes like we did last night, that’s an issue,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We weren’t good enough, so the coaches obviously didn’t do a good job, but neither did our players. That’s unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable, to play like that.”
And it’s how the team is playing that has Babcock more concerned rather than the seed the Wings have in the playoffs.
“That isn’t as big a deal as how you’re playing,” Babcock said. “Would I like us to start in Detroit? Absolutely; but Nashville’s a fun town, too. We’re going to play the game, (home ice) is not an issue for me. The issue for me is how your team’s playing and how you’re feeling about yourself, because if you’re not playing good, the playoffs are short. They are long for two teams. Everyone always says the Stanley Cup playoffs are long. No they’re not. They’re short for everybody except two teams.”
Detroit is 16-21-3 on the road.
“I just think the playoffs are a different thing totally,” Babcock said. “When I look at the records in the Western Conference on the road, Vancouver has a real good record, the rest of us are not great. In saying that, would we like to be better on the road? Absolutely. We have a big road game in St. Louis, so that’ll be a fun game as well.
“To me all the stuff, worrying about where you finish, hasn’t done us any good,” Babcock continued. “I remember one year we got Edmonton in the first round, I thought that was a pretty good matchup at the time. I remember at the time to never ever be excited about a matchup.”
That was the 2005-2006 season when the Wings won the Presidents’ Trophy and were the first seed. They promptly fell in six games to the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs.