Daily Archives: May 27, 2013

Wings look to take advantage of home ice and close out Blackhawks

DETROIT – With the San Jose Sharks win Sunday night over the Los Angeles Kings, the home teams in this round of the playoffs are now 18-3.

That bodes well for the Wings’ chances to close things out tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I have no theories on it, other than it’s obviously better to play on home ice,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “I know we really enjoy playing here. The crowd really gets behind us, and it gets us going. I really don’t have an answer behind that other than I know it’s tough to win in road buildings and when you get the opportunity to do so, it’s a gratifying feeling. But you can’t just think you’re going to walk out there and win the game. They’re going to try to come up with a win tonight, just like we are.”

Detroit holds a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Blackhawks.

“The fans were behind us all year long, but it’s even more crazier in the playoffs,” defenseman Jakub Kindl said. “The previous games we played, the fans were unbelievable, they were behind us. I’m sure tonight’s going to be the same and we’re going to need them more.”

Home teams are 48-20 thus far in the postseason.

“I think we’re in a great position here, up 3-2 and on our home ice in front of our home fans,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We’re excited about the opportunity tonight.”

“I think our fans in the past have been real loud and supportive during the playoffs,” forward Drew Miller said. “Definitely they’ve had so many consecutive seasons with the playoffs, so many years you get built up ready for a playoff push and you get in and everyone has that excitement, you can feel that in the building. I don’t think it’s too much different than in years past. Maybe this year they believe in us a lot more, given that we got by Anaheim and got to get one more win here against Chicago.”

The only teams to lose on home ice this round were the Blackhawks, Ottawa and New York Rangers.

“(The fans have been) unbelievable these playoff,” defenseman Brendan Smith. “It’s been unbelievable to have them behind us. It’s something we get a lot of momentum from and we’re excited about that.

“Maybe it’s just people counted us out and we’re doing a little better than has been expected,” Smith continued. “It’s been a totally different atmosphere in the stands. It’s been very loud and they’ve been behind us the whole way.”

Chicago began the year 21-0-3 and won the Presidents’ Trophy, while Detroit needed to win its final four in the regular season just to qualify for the playoffs as the seventh seed.

“We’re still underdogs,” Abdelkader said. “We’re the seventh seed, they’re the one seed. Those guys had a magical run all during the regular season. They’ve been a favorite all year, all playoffs. We’re coming in here with a great opportunity up three games to two. We’re just looking forward to going out there and having fun.”

The Wings had a chance to close things out in Chicago on Saturday, but failed to do so, falling to the Blackhawks, 4-1.

“We’ve just got to play better,” Abdelkader said. “We just kind of came out flat. We didn’t have any jump. We looked tentative at the start. We’ve got to be a lot better. I think we’ll respond tonight. We’re back home and everyone’s excited about the opportunity.”

Chicago scored twice on the power play in Game 5 and also got a goal from the much-maligned Jonathan Toews, his first of the playoffs.

“It’s very simple, whoever thought we would be up 3-1 against the best team in the NHL? Sometimes you’re going to have a bad game, sometimes you have to work way harder,” Kindl said. “So obviously it’s a long run and you’re not going to win every game easier. You lose some games, you win some games. Obviously the Game 5 they were a way better team. They played harder than us, but the bottom line is that we have to play like we did Game2, Game 3, Game 4. That’s what we will try to focus on tonight.”

During the Wings’ three-game winning streak in this series, they scored the Blackhawks 9-2.

“We’re going to try to play loose, but still try to set the tone,” Kindl said. “We’ll pay way harder than we did the last game in their building. Obviously, we don’t want to go back there, but we’ll play hard, harder than we did before.”

If there is a Game 7 back at the United Center it will take place Wednesday at 8 p.m.

“We don’t want to go back there, so take care of business tonight,” Abdelkader said.

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In many ways, Wings face must-win situation of their own in Game 6

DETROIT – If there was ever a must-win for a team that holds a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series, it may come Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Coming off a 4-1 one-sided affair on the road, the Detroit Red Wings return home to host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

“Don’t get me wrong, now that we’re here, this is our opportunity,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. “Before Game 5, that was our opportunity and we dropped the ball. We didn’t have our best. We need to be better. We didn’t have enough guys on deck.”

The Wings had won three in a row in the series, outscoring Chicago 9-2 in the process, before suffering the defeat in the first close-out game of the series.

“As a coaching staff, we didn’t get the job done and the group of players didn’t get the job done,” Babcock said. “We weren’t good enough. We weren’t even close. Let’s get our minds right, much more so than our bodies right, and be prepared to execute and be desperate. We were tentative. I thought we were tight. I don’t know why.”

On Saturday, Chicago played like the team that began the season 21-0-3 and went on to claim the Presidents’ Trophy.

The Blackhawks also snapped a string of 12 straight power plays without a goal in the win, netting two on the night. One of the power play goals came from their much-maligned captain, Jonathan Toews.

“They were more desperate than us,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We know how we have to play to have success and we have to look back at what we did the previous three games. We got to match that.

“We have to come out with that desperation, just like a Game 7,” Kronwall continued. “Make sure we do everything we can to be true to ourselves, give ourselves an honest chance.”

Playing at home has been a decisive advantage in this year’s playoffs. Heading into play Sunday, homes teams are 47-20.

In the semifinals the home team has even been better, going 17-3.

“In the first round, we had one bad one, one good one, one bad one, one good one, one bad one, and then we finished off with two good ones,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ve just got to find a way here to come back and play good and I think we’ve learned that in these playoffs.”

If Chicago forces a Game 7 it will be back in the United Center on Wednesday.

“When you’ve been through it a whole bunch, I think the reality is it’s a race to four,” said Babcock, who will go with the same lineup he has used since Game 2. “You’ve got to put teams away, they’re not going away. It’s not like they got a holiday booked somewhere they got to get to. They’re competing to stay in it. I thought that was evident and it was a real good message for our team. We thought we had done a pretty good job expressing that prior to the game, but obviously in our play it didn’t show. We talked about that and more so, we talked about what we have to do.

“It’s great that they played good, but it didn’t have anything to do with us,” Babcock continued. “We didn’t do anything. I’m not trying to take anything away from Chicago. We’ve got to play harder, more desperate, more organized, more detail-oriented. We weren’t a very good hockey team.”

And the furthest thing on their mind is another trip to Chicago let alone a trip to California to open the Western Conference finals.

“I think we’re just thinking about this next game here at home and taking care of business,” Justin Abdelkader said. “I don’t think anyone thought the series was going to go five games. I think everybody knew it would be a long, grinding series. We kind of took a step back (Saturday), but we’re ready and prepared to come out Monday night strong.”