Tag Archives: mike babcock

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.”

Wings coach Mike Babcock: “Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock gave Jimmy Howard one more chance to keep his No. 1 status between the pipes.

And now Babcock has taken it away.

After allowing three goals on 10 shots after one period in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena, Babcock made the switch to Petr Mrazek the rest of the way.

Babcock then handed Mrazek the starting role for the time being after the game.

“When you’re behind like we are, you’re giving up too many goals,” Babcock said. “Let’s not worry about the turnovers at this point. Let’s fix how we’re playing without the puck, let’s get … Pete Mrzek’s got to get himself ready to go. Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.

“It’s amazing when you get a little confidence in that area we can all settle down and get playing better,” Babcock continued. “We’ve scored tons of goals in the last couple of games but like I said it’s like chasing the game. You can’t play like that, you’ve got to play right. So we’re going to get regrouped and I guarantee we’ll be ready to play.”

Howard has allowed eight goals on 32 shots in slightly over four periods.

“I agree with you,” Babcock said when asked if Howard looked uncomfortable in the first period. “It’s one of those things. I haven’t talked to him, I’ll talk to him (Friday), but obviously it didn’t go the way he wanted.

“We gave him an opportunity to bounce back, he didn’t do that,” Babcock added. “We’ll give Pete Mrazek an opportunity here. As a group of coaches and a group of players we just got to bunker in here (Friday) and have a good conversation, have a good practice and get ready to play. Like I said we’ll be back ready to go.”

Howard, who turned 31 on Thursday, has been very inconsistent since returning in mid-February from a groin injury.

He was easily one of the reasons why the Wings are where they’re at now because of his strong play to start the season.

When Babcock was asked if he had a No. 1 goalie he responded with, “I’m starting Pete Mrazek next game.”

Mrazek also gave up a softy to Patrick Marleau, which proved to be the game winner.

“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. But the one, the chicken wing.

“(Logan) Couture’s shot’s a great shot, but that can’t happen to you,” Babcock continued. “But he’ll get the start next game and we need him to bunker down and play the way he’s capable of playing.”

The Wings, who lost 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday to Arizona, host Tampa Bay on Saturday.

“Same goes for everyone else,” Babcock said. “We had D that didn’t box out and weren’t ready to go at the start either. We’re all in this together. We took our lumps here today and last game. We’ve given up a lot of goals at home. That’s not how we want to play. That’s not Red Wing-like. We’ll come in here tomorrow and get it fixed.”

Detroit is 3-7-1 in its past 11 games.

Babcock’s message to Cole and Zidlicky simple: “Picture the player you are and just do that.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock met with both newly acquired Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky and had the same message for both of them, “Picture the player you are and just do that. That’s why we acquired you. Here’s our structure and now you have to find a way to do the two together.”

Cole and Zidlicky took part in their first practice with their new team since being traded for prior to the NHL trade deadline.

“I don’t want them thinking when they get on the ice I want them playing,” Babcock said. “It’ll show over time. We didn’t bring them here to change them. We got them here so they could do what they do and we’ll figure out a way to make it work for them.”

Cole practiced on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, who’s excepted to action Wednesday after missing four straight games due to a head injury, and Justin Abdelkader.

Zidlicky, who’s a right-handed shot and a power-play specialist, was paired on the blue line with Brendan Smith.

“He plays with pace and can take the puck to the net,” Babcock said of Cole. “He’s having a good year. Looks to me he has some size and has the ability to be heavy on it.”

“He’s a competitor,” added Babcock on Zidlicky. “He can shoot the puck and can make plays. He’s got good offensive skill. I think he’ll be a great addition. He made some plays in practice that makes you smile which is positive.”

The two will also be inserted on power play units. Cole will be out with his two linemates, along with Stephen Weiss and Niklas Kronwall, while Zidlicky will man the point for Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

“It was great to see that we as an organization were able to help our team,” Babcock said. “I think our team has done a good job and if you do a good job Kenny (Holland) has shown over the years he tries to help you.

“From an organizational standpoint, long term, we were able to do that without giving up a whole bunch so therefore we serve ourselves for now and in the future with the group we have coming,” Babcock continued. “We’re excited we have both guys. I think both can be prominent players for us. It’s going to take them some time to adjust but I think they’ll be a factor.”

Babcock salutes Super Bowl champ Belichick

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock has been a big fan of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose team won its fourth Super Bowl in 14 years on Sunday.

“He wins,” Babcock said. “He’s a life-long learner. He wins multiple different ways. They change their roster every year. They build their identity based on what their roster is that year. Their offense is always changing. If he has time to plan he has ways to make your offense go away.

“I just think they’re incredible and they’ve been doing it for 14-15 years,” Babcock continued. “We have a whole bunch of teams that come and go. We see it every year. This team’s hot, this team’s going to be good and I still look around and where are they? There’s a couple ways to get good in our league. One is you’ve been bad for 10 straight years, go through a whole bunch of coaches and by that time you’ve drafted well so you can be good. Or you just keep grinding. I like what they do because I think that’s what we do.”

Wings’ five-game win streak means nothing according to Babcock as team embarks to play 11 of next 14 on road

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.”

Are the Wings over overachieving this season? Team is a point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference

DETROIT >> If you had taken a poll inside the Wings’ locker room prior to the start of the season and asked if the team would be a point out of first place for the top spot in the Eastern Conference by the All-Star break, a majority of the responses would have been no.

Well that’s just where Detroit is at, with 63 points in 47 games and just a point behind Tampa Bay.

“When I thought about around July 5 when not much happened this summer, I was disappointed, like a few of my veteran players who called me were disappointed, too,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think any of us would have believed we’d be at this spot, the general manager and myself included.”

The team didn’t land any of the needs it had searched for through free agency, mainly a right-handed shooting defenseman, and essentially brought back the same squad from last season.

So far it’s worked out.

The Wings (27-11-9), who will come out of the break on a five-game winning streak and tied with the New York Islanders for second overall in the Eastern Conference, have 13 more points than they did after 47 games last season.

Health has also played a major role in getting the Wings to where they’re at in the standings.

Last season Detroit had the second most man games lost according to mangameslost.com at 421 and still found a way into the playoffs. And the Wings’ two best players – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk – were limited to 45 games each.

“The contributions of players that were out a lot last year due to injuries have been a real positive and then the continued development of the younger players,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “At the end of the day, when you’re in the playoffs 23 straight years it means a lot of picking late and we’re trying to accomplish two goals at the same time, we’re trying to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup and we’re also trying to rebuild the team on the fly.”

This year Detroit is 14th in man games lost with 111. Columbus is first with 283.

“Everyone’s been healthy and we’ve been playing well, so it’s not a huge surprise,” Darren Helm said. “It’s hard work but it’s paid off.”

The injuries last season has helped in the development of the younger players, including Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, who lead the team in goals with 21 and 19 respectively.

“Our scouts have done a real nice job and obviously (Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill) has done a good job in developing and then we’ve done a good job here,” Babcock said.

Special teams have also contributed. The Wings rank in the top 10 in both power play (second) and penalty kill (sixth).

“We’re in a good situation and now we’ve got to get better,” Babcock said. “Our penalty kill hasn’t been near as good here lately. We’ve got to get our penalty kill back, our faceoff circle back and get everyone playing a little better. I think the big thing right now is just get guys away and get them freshened up and get ready for a push.”

Detroit also is 10th in goals per game and seventh in goals against.

“We’re doing a lot of good things,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve gotten better and got it going here. Compared to last year we’re more healthy. I think we’re a little deeper. Special teams are a little bit better.

The Wings have also taken advantage of a favorable schedule.

During the first half they’ve had a favorable home schedule and have faced teams coming off games the night before 13 times.

However, coming out of the break Detroit plays 11 of its first 14 on the road and 20 of its last 35.

“There’s a long way to go and we have to keep winning games,” Zetterberg said. “We know that. Montreal and Tampa will win games. And Boston will win games. We need to keep playing well if we want to have fun in the end.”

Severity of Howard’s injury still undetermined

DETROIT >> For the time being, this is Petr Mrazek’s team.

Mrazek has been elevated to the Wings’ No. 1 goalie after the team placed Jimmy Howard on injured reserve with a groin injury.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to have to get him settled down a little bit. There’s a point where he challenges and then over-challenges. We’ve got to get that under control. We should have no trouble with that.”

It’s still not known the extent of Howard’s injury.

He had an MRI Sunday, but will need to have an ultrasound Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Howard, who had just been named to the 2015 All-Star Game, was injured Saturday night after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.

He was taken from the ice on a stretcher.

Howard was having one of his best seasons of his career. He’s 16-7-7 record in 32 games while ranking fourth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.11) and tied for 11th in save percentage (.920).

Mrazek is the Wings’ goalie of the future.

“He’s a good goaltender, he plays the puck well and he’ll win games for us,” Babcock said.

This season he’s 5-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

“For being a young guy he plays with a lot of confidence,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “I like the way he wants to stay in the game, he wants to play the puck for us. He looks confident doing that and that makes us confident about him.

“I think he’s been making some really nice plays, better passes than the D sometimes,” Ericsson continued. “He’s making big saves for us. I feel like he’s comfortable and confident back there. That’s everything about today’s game.”

Mrazek has played 20 career NHL games, with a 8-8-3 record.

“When I played three games in a row before Christmas, I felt great,” Mrazek said. “Always when you can play lots of games in a row, it helps you get confidence and you’re going get into the game. But it’s not nice to see Howie hurt.”

Because Jonas Gustavsson is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in November, the Wings recalled Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids. McCollum is 10-8-1 this season with the Griffins with a 2.33 GAA and .911 save percentage in 21 games.