Tag Archives: mike babcock

Normally very talkative Smith very tight lipped about his status for Game 3 despite Babcock announcing he was on a local radio station

DETROIT >> Brendan Smith isn’t usually one to shy away from speaking his mind in the Wings’ locker room.

But that wasn’t the issue Monday afternoon.

After Wings coach Mike Babcock announced Monday morning on a local radio show that Smith would return to the lineup Tuesday, Smith was asked how he felt about getting back in.

Here’s how the exchange went.

Q: What’s it been like being out?

Smith: What’s it been like?

Q: Disappointing to be scratched?

Smith: Absolutely. Just be ready when called upon.

Q: What have you noticed watching the first two games of the series?

Smith: I think coach came up with a game plan and we’re going to try and stick with that. I think that’s the plan.

Q: Were you told this morning you were going in?

Smith: Nope. Like you guys are the ones telling me so I don’t know.

Q: Babcock mentioned that on the radio.

Smith: OK. Like I said I haven’t been told so I don’t know. I’m just going to be ready when they call me.

Q: What do you need to do to keep in lineup, no turnovers, playing with the puck more?

Smith: Our team likes playing with the puck. That’s kind of our emphasis. We don’t want to turn it over.

Smith: Anybody else?

Q: Been tough to watch games?

Smith: Everybody’s trying to get in. Anyone that’s a Black Ace is trying to get in, whoever’s a Black Ace is trying to play. I think that’s a big thing. All I do is listen to our systems and when I get the call I’ll be able to get in there and play as hard as I can.

Q: You haven’t heard until now, surprised?

Smith: I’m just going to wait until I actually find out. When I find out for sure I’m in the lineup and I’m out there then I’ll be happy and play as hard as I can.

Q: After giving up a lot of shots in Game 1 the team did a better job against that in Game 2, notice why?

Smith: I didn’t play. I think in any game we’re focusing on boxing out and playing hard in front of the net. If you want to ask those questions it would more evident with some of the guys that played the games. I thought there were sometimes when we lacked coverage, but so did their team. That’s just how the game goes, but like I said you should go ask some of the other guys. But what I saw we played well in different areas.

Q: How do you deal with being a healthy scratch?

Smith: Stay positive, that’s the biggest thing and just keep working hard. If you guys saw any of the practices I was working hard and bag skating myself or getting Tony (Granato) to help me out working on things. That was kind of the biggest thing.

Q: Excited to get in?

Smith: Like I said I’m not sure I am, people telling me that I am, but I’ve had that happen before. If I have the chance to play I’ll be happy and I’ll just answer the bell because that’s what I do.

Smith has been a healthy scratch since he gloved the puck intentionally while on the bench against Montreal in the second to last regular season game.

“Smitty can really skate and competes,” said Babcock, who didn’t want to get into the reasoning behind Smith being a healthy scratch. “I don’t think we’re skating good enough and I don’t think we’re competing hard enough. So there are two things.”

Smith will be paired with Marek Zidlicky.

“Yeah for sure,” Justin Abdelkader said when asked if Smith was bothered by sitting out. “I mean this time of year everyone wants to be in the lineup and everyone in here is competitive and fighting for not only a spot in the lineup but ice time.

“You could tell it was getting at him, but he stayed positive and worked hard,” Abdelkader continued. “He’s going to be ready. He’s going to provide some physicality for us. He’s a big defenseman who takes the body, makes it hard for opponents to get to the front of the net. I think he’ll be a big boost, he’s going to come out ready to go.”

Abdelkader, Smith in Game 3; Babcock: “We have a lot more to give.”

DETROIT >> Quick update from Wings practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

There will be two changes made to the Wings’ lineup for Game 3, Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith will both make their series debuts.

“I just felt (Ryan) Callahan, (Alex) Killorn and (Steven) Stamkos to me got a free ride in their building just for the fact that (Tyler) Johnson was playing against Pav or we had Glennie against them and they were trying hard to keep Glennie away from guys so Stamkos played against Sheahan and to me that didn’t work out very good for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was too much free ice.”

Abdelkader, who injured his right hand when he blocked the shot of Minnesota’s Marco Scandella on April 4, will skate with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist.

“I think my game’s really suited for the playoffs and hopefully I can help the team out,” Abdelkader said. “Be physical, be on the forecheck, be around the net and just watching the last two games it’s been tough. I’m itching to get out there and I’m excited.”

Abdelkader had a career-high 23 goals and 44 points this season.

“Putting Z back in the middle and giving him a winger, a guy that can skate and work for them helps,” Babcock said. “Abby’s a big body. He’s an everydayer. He competes hard like (Darren) Helm.

“The think I would say when you evaluate our team, we have a lot more to give,” Babcock continued. “We’re two games in and we’re 1-1, we have a lot more to give. We need everyone on deck. We can’t be one on or one off. We need everyone onboard. Abby’s a competitor. He’s a guy that’s good at the net. He plays hard. He competes hard. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”

Pavel Datsyuk will center Helm and Tomas Tatar.

As for Smith, who has been a healthy scratch ever since he gloved the puck intentionally from the bench against Montreal, he gives the team more speed.

“Smitty can really skate and competes,” said Babcock, who didn’t want to get into the reasoning behind Smith being a healthy scratch. “I don’t think we’re skating good enough and I don’t think we’re competing hard enough. So there are two things.”

Alexey Marchenko, Stephen Weiss, Teemu Pulkkinen and Daniel Cleary will be healthy scratches.

Babcock gives starting job to Mrazek, feels he gives them best chance in the playoffs

DETROIT >> Petr Mrazek may have played his way into being the Wings’ starting goalie in the playoffs.

Wings coach Mike Babcock said he made his decision on who would lead the team in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning after Saturday night.

That night Mrazek blanked Carolina in the regular-season finale, making 33 saves for his third shutout of the season.

“I just watch the guys play and I just thought that gives us the best way to start the series,” Babcock said. “Don’t confuse the player and the person. What I do is try and take all the emotion out of it and I try to take the information I have by watching games and by talking to our staff and then I make the decision that’s best for the team.”

When Mrazek is on he’s on.

In his last six wins he has a .982 save percentage (stopping 172 of 175 shots), a 0.50 goal against average and three shutouts.

“I’m excited,” Mrazek said. “It’s their decision and I can be just happy for that and do my best.

“It’s a huge chance,” Mrazek continued. “It’s the same chance I had when I was 20 years old in Grand Rapids, my first year being starter for playoffs so that’s a new challenge for me.”

Mrazek led the Griffins to the Calder Cup that season.

“When I said before the game in Carolina, that was a big game for me because I had three games I didn’t have a win, I had just one point against Ottawa so that game was huge and finished the season with the win,” Mrazek said.

Mrazek also blanked the Lightning, who are the highest-scoring team in the league, in the last meeting of the regular season against the teams, making 23 saves.

“It’s not about any of us right now, it’s about the Detroit Red Wings,” Babcock said. “It’s real simple. I went through that again this morning, it doesn’t matter if you play one shift or 50 shifts or you’re scratched or not, it’s how you handle it and how you make the team better. The individual time of the year is all over. It’s all about the team, let’s get ready to play.”

Howard, who gave up three soft goals in an overtime loss to Montreal last Thursday, had lost the starting job to Mrazek after back-to-back poor outings.

Howard allowed five goals on 22 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss to the lowly Arizona Coyotes on March 24 and then was yanked after allowing three goals on 10 shots in one period the very next game against the San Jose Sharks.

“When you evaluate goalies you evaluate them on who they are and their skill sets are different,” Babcock said. “Then you just decide on which one can help the team and help you win.”

Mrazek had his ups and downs when he took over as the number one.

After shutting the Lighting, he was replaced by Howard his next start against the New York Islanders, allowing four goals on 11 shots.

Prior to Saturday, he had allowed just six goals over this last three starts, but has gone just 0-2-1 in them.

“It’s a team sport and if the team plays real good it gives your goaltender a better chance,” Babcock continued. “Pete’s played real good games for us this year and has done a fair bit of winning for us. I made that decision.”

Zetterberg feeling much better after being reunited with on-again, off-again linemate

DETROIT >> Henrik Zetterberg was feeling kind of down after the morning skate Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

A goal and an assist later in the evening after being reunited with on-again, off-again linemate Pavel Datsyuk helped change his confidence level at least for one game.

“I was obviously excited to be back with Pavel,” Zetterberg said. “It’s been awhile. It’s good when we get an opportunity to play together to produce. I have to give a lot of credit to Helmer being in front of the net on both of the goals. He really created a lot of space for us and gives us a lot of time.

“It was going pretty good with Abby and Gus too, but sometimes you just need a little change to get a different feel,” Zetterberg added. “It’s no surprise we like to play together, but we haven’t played together that much lately. Today was good when we got a chance we went out and scored some goals.”

It was Zetterberg’s first goal in 13 games and just his second in the last 28.

“I just think the big thing there is he scored a big goal and set up a big goal,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the team’s 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Carolina Hurricanes. “You know, everyone here takes responsibility for their play and as a coach you take responsibility when your team’s not ready. But we’re all in it together. So it doesn’t go on one guy and you’re not carrying the weight of the world around on your back. That makes no sense.”

Zetterberg called himself out Tuesday morning after the morning skate about his lack of production.

“This time of year I’m supposed to be there, score goals, put up points for my team,” he said. “I haven’t done that lately. That’s something I’m not happy about.

“I think I create chances, but some games I’m not,” he continued. “It’s kind of a new position for me, going this long, this time of the year is not common. You start to think too much. When you’re supposed to pass you shoot and vice versa. It’s going back to the basics and believing in yourself, believe in yourself and work hard. If you work hard the offense will come.”

Babcock said he had a talk with the Wings captain after hearing what he had said this morning.

“I mean, Z’s a good player and he’s a proud guy and wants to play well,” Babcock said. “He’s trying. I think as long as you’re putting the effort in things are going to turn of you. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it, but if you do good things, as I always say, good things will happen. Good for Z tonight. We’re proud of him. He’s got to be proud of himself and now we have to get ready for the next game.”

Sheahan out ‘for a bit'; Datsyuk status for Saturday unknown

DETROIT >> The Wings will be without center Riley Sheahan for “for a bit” according to coach Mike Babcock.

Sheahan suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

“Obviously he brings a lot, but someone else gets an opportunity,” Babcock said of Sheahan. “I made a policy over the last few years, there’s no sense in talking about the guys who aren’t here. We’ll talk about the guys who are.”

Sheahan had played every game this season, totaling 12 goals, 22 assists and a minus-2 rating.

Pavel Datsyuk took part on line drills at practice, centering a line with Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar on wing.

Babcock wasn’t sure if Datsyuk will play Saturday when the Wings host Tampa Bay.

He’s missed the last five games with a lower-body injury.

Erik Cole also didn’t practice. He missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury.

“I don’t know,” Babcock said when asked about Cole’s status. “It’s pretty obvious you come here every day and ask me about these guys. When they’re ready to play they tell me. When they’re not … What do I do?”

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Here’s Wings coach Mike Babcock’s response when asked about how comfortable he is if Petr Mrazek is the No. 1 goalie heading into the playoffs.

“I like winning,” Babcock said. “That’s it. It’s real simple. Everybody in the National Hockey League knows that the best guys get to play and if you’re playing the best you get to play. Our players start each game knowing that. It’s no different. Anytime you’re struggling as a player it’s your job to work extra hard when you get your opportunity it’s to seize your opportunity. So it’s no different for Pete Mrazek. He gets an opportunity. He’s got to seize it. We just watch and they decide who plays, not us. Everyone thinks the coach decides. All the coach does is observe, no different than you do. He just does it from a different perspective. And then the guys who play the best get to play.”

Quote of the day … Wings coach Mike Babcock

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock pointed response to when asked about Petr Mrazek’s play and his subsequent inclusion of his team allowing 11 goals over the last two games.

“I didn’t like the second goal,” Babcock said. “Was that the fifth goal? When you’ve given up as many as we have it’s hard to remember.”