Daily Archives: October 9, 2013

Wings coach Mike Babcock calls Jim Leyland a ‘serial winner’

DETROIT — Many of the Wings are huge Detroit Tigers fans, including Mike Babcock and Jimmy Howard.

Both were asked about the pressure of a win-or-go-home game.

“It’s way more nerve wracking to watch them play than to coach us I can tell you that,” Babcock said. “(Anibal) Sanchez started the night before and then I had to laugh when they asked (Jim) Leyland and it’s, ‘well he’s my guy.’ When Howie’s getting bombed 6-1 in the playoffs what do you do? He’s our guy. And I thought it was awesome bringing (Max Scherzer) off the bench yesterday because if you don’t win Game 4 forget about saving a starter for Game 5 then you have (Justin) Verlander. To me it was exciting stuff.”

The Tigers forced a Game 5 after beating Oakland in Game 4, 8-6.

“The other thing, attitude is contagious, work ethic is contagious, hitting’s contagious, scoring is contagious and once they got a couple of hits the guys got confidence, it’s exactly the same thing in our game,” Babcock said. “Then you get feeling it, you get some swagger back and you get up there and the ball looks big again. That’s what I watch when I’m watching the game. It’s the same thing, it’s a bunch of guys competing. The other team’s competing too.

“Last year in the playoffs when Howie had Corey Perry’s number,” Babcock continued. “It’s not like Corey Perry didn’t have 100 chances, Howie had him. It’s like a pitcher that’s got you. Yesterday when they got to the bullpen to me that’s a sign of good things to come. Go Tigers.”

Babcock also is a big fan of Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

“One of the best stories I have of Jim Leyland, I was asking him about walking out there and saying you’re done (to a pitcher and how it felt) and he said, ‘I’ve pulled better pitchers than that,’” Babcock recalled. “The reality of what he’s telling you it’s not about the guy, but he’s making decisions for the team. What I like is he does what’s right. He doesn’t let the fans coach the team, he doesn’t let the media coach the team, he does what he’s supposed to do. To me that’s what it’s all about you make these decisions based on experience and you go with your gut and your gut is based on a track record of being steady on the rudder and winning. You don’t win over and over again, you don’t become a serial winner like he is by accident so you do the right things and good things happen.”

Howard was at Game 4.

“It was a blast,” Howard said. “Let me tell you, in those situations, it’s fun being a fan. Just sitting there cheering and now the one being in that situation. It was just fun cheering them on. That game was awesome to be a part of last night. It was amazing to watch Sherzer pitch out of that jam.”

Howard faced the same situation in Game 7 last season against the Chicago Blackhawks that the Wings eventually lost in overtime.

“Usually when I’m out there I just play and whatever happens happens,” Howard said. “I wasn’t nervous (in Game 7 last year). Just one of those things you go out there and you play. You play hard and leave it all out there on the ice. For me, being in Game 7s and in overtimes, I just don’t get nervous. It’s a lot tougher to watch, just being in the stands and sitting in the stands I think it’s more nerve wracking watching than it is playing.”

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Tootoo cleared to play; Babcock putting Samuelsson back in for Tatar

DETROIT — Quick update from Wings practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Forward Jordin Tootoo said he’s been cleared from a shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason.

“Cleared to play, as far as medically wise, I feel I’m in the right state to get back at ‘er,” Tootoo said. “Right now it’s just about maintaining my strength and making sure every day I come to be ready, both mentally and physically.”

Tootoo will have an uphill battle to get in the lineup with the number of forwards in the Wings locker room.

“Like I said before, my job is to play hockey when I’m called upon,” Tootoo said. “For me it’s one day at a time. Just enjoying every bit of it. This is the greatest league to be in and when you’re around the greatest hockey players in the world, life is good. I’m just glad to be part of this whole organization and for me I’m ready to go when called upon.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock said Mikael Samuelsson will return to the lineup Thursday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes after sitting out Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Boston.

Tomas Tatar will be a healthy scratch.

The Coyotes have lost two straight coming in after winning their opener. They’ve been outscored 10-2 over the last two games.

“Well I watched them these last two games and they didn’t play as good as they can,” Babcock said. “Well we just lost too. We’ve had a few days off, we should be refreshed and ready to go. They’re a good hockey team and a proud team and they’re going to respond and we’re going to respond as well. It should be a good game.”

The Coyotes are the first team from the Western Conference they’ll face this season.

“Every time we play Phoenix it’s a very hard-fought game,” Jimmy Howard said. “They’re so well-coached, they play their systems so well. If you’re going to beat them you have to beat them with all aspects of your game.”