TAYLOR >> The Detroit Red Wings come out of the All-Star break winners of five games in a row.
That means nothing to coach Mike Babcock after the team returned to practice Monday at Taylor Sportsplex.
“That’s over with,” Babcock said after the 40-mintue practice. “To me, we’ve got a new game. It’s like starting all over. We’ve got a 35-game push here and let’s get started. These next five games for us are real important. If I’m not mistaken four of them are on the road, so let’s get off to a good start and do well.”
The Wings embark on a pretty tough schedule off a five-day break playing 11 of their next 14 on the road starting Tuesday night at Florida. That’s followed with a game at Tampa Bay Thursday before returning home to face the New York Islanders.
“It’s always a challenge to go on the road, but you’ve got to stick with what you do,” Niklas Kronwall said. “We’ve had a lot of games on the road just after Christmas and I thought we did a fairly good job of sticking with it. We’ve got to get back to work here and do the right things.”
All three teams of the Wings’ next opponents have given them trouble in recent years.
Florida has won both meetings this season against Detroit, both played at Joe Louis Arena. The Panthers are also 5-2-0 since the start of last season against the Wings. Three of those wins were in a shootout.
Tampa Bay is 5-1-0 against Detroit since the start of last season, while the Islanders are 7-1-0 in their past eight against the Wings.
“You’ve got to win games,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “If you look at our division, the teams ahead of us are winning games and the teams behind us are winning games so you have to keep winning if you want to be in the hunt.”
The Wings have 63 points through 47 games and are just a point behind Tampa Bay for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.
“I feel we’ve won some games, but I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey in these last few at all,” Babcock said. “I feel we’re a confident group that has a pretty good understanding of how we have to play and now we got to get back and do that again. I don’t get all hung up on where all the games are, we’ve got a game in Florida (Tuesday) and we’re going to get there and try to play well.”