ROMULUS – Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock juggled his lines just enough in Game 7 Sunday night in Anaheim to get his team through to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs.
As far as those changes sticking for Game 1 Wednesday night in Chicago, only time will tell.
“It gives me an option, we’ll see,” Babcock said after the Wings arrived at Detroit Metro Airport Monday. “We’re going to get prepared. We’ll have a plan by the time we get to Chicago.”
After conferring with a number of his leaders on the plane ride to Anaheim Saturday, Babcock decided to break up the team’s top line, moving Henrik Zetterberg to skate with Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary.
Filppula scored what proved to be the game winner in Game 7, his first goal of the playoffs. He also had an assist.
Zetterberg remained red hot with a goal an assist.
“We thought it was a good move,” Zetterberg said. “We didn’t know how long it would last. We thought it might just be for the first 10 minutes, but he kept it that way the whole game. Now we’ve just got to see what we do against Chicago.”
The move also put Johan Franzen up with Pavel Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader.
“Fil got 66 points playing on the wing with Z last year,” Babcock said. “And yet I like playing Pav and Z together and if we have enough depth we can do that. But that hasn’t been the case for us and we’ve had to go a different way.”
Filppula had an untimely gaff in Game 6, when his blind, backhand pass behind the net went right on the stick of Ducks forward Emerson Etem and it resulted in a goal for the Ducks that got them to within one in the third period. Fifty-one seconds later, Anaheim tied the score to send it to overtime where they eventually lost.
“He wasn’t very happy with himself the other night,” Babcock said. “The great thing about competitors is they bounce back, so good for him and good for us. We need him to be a huge factor.”
“It was a bad play,” Filppula said of the play in Game 6. “I heard somebody yell behind me and obviously it wasn’t our own guy. It was a tough play, a bad play by me.
“You make mistakes sometimes when you play, you hope you wouldn’t make those kind of mistakes but you try to forget them quick,” Filppula added. “We won that game and obviously you want to do your best all the time to help the team and glad I could do a little better today in that department.”