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Local Sports News

Thursday, 1 April, 2010 0:11 AM

Babcock says Red Wings are not giving up their fight for a playoff spot

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock addresses the Detroit Economic Club on March 29, 2010.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs for the last 18 seasons in a row. This year is a little more challenging than past years. The team now has six more games to go and they are not guaranteed a playoff spot yet. However, if they keep up their six-game winning streak, they will make it to the playoffs. Head Coach Mike Babcock, general manager Ken Holland and team owner Chris Illitch addressed the Detroit Economic Club on Monday afternoon.

The Red Wings finished the 2008-2009 season with 112 points and were in first place of the central division. During the 2007-2008 season, the team finished with 115 points and won the Stanley Cup. This year, the team has under 100 points so far with just six more games to go.

"You sure have to like the direction we're going," Babcock said. "We've had a number of changes. That's just the way it has to be. You've got to change in business in order to stay on top. The scouts, the management have done a great job of bringing guys in. Our penalty kill last year was 25th; this year it's 10th. A lot of guys have been freshened up. That's why we're going to be so strong in the playoffs."

In regards to the playoffs, the head coach said: "We have to get in. Everybody realizes that. We see a team since the all-star break or since the Olympic break that's been 11-2-1. We have a heck of a team. We've got good people, we've got good leadership, we've got good goaltending so that means opportunity. Preparation has always got to be equal to opportunity. It's the tightest the league's been in 10 years from one to eight in the west."

The Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups, more than any other U.S. team. The Montreal Canadians and Toronto Maple Leafs only have more Stanley Cups than Detroit.

"We got to keep our foot on the gas pedal," Holland said. "We've got a better chance than anybody to go on a playoff run. The biggest thing is keep our foot on the pedal. I know Mike is not going to let off on our guys. Our captains and assistant captains are going to keep everybody focused. It's been an interesting year. This time of year we know we're in, now we got to play our way in. I'm very optimistic. But I don't sleep very much. I'm very, very nervous."

Two Red Wings draft picks are finalists for the Hobey Baker award. Brendan Smith, a defense man from Wisconsin, had 44 points including 11 power play goals this year. Gustav Nyquist, a forward from Maine, had 59 points in 37 games this year. It will be announced during the NCAA Frozen Four at Ford Field on Friday, April 9.

"I'm very proud of the job our scouting staff has done," the Red Wings general manager said. "Our scouts have done an incredible job behind the scenes in drafting. I think there's about 12 players on our team are draft picks. Our scouts have done a tremendous job in identifying players that we need to sign to fill up the team."

Babcock honored team captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who recently surpassed 1,400 career games and 1,000 career points in the NHL. He also honored Tomas Holmstrom, who recently surpassed 100 power play goals in the NHL.

"Our very own Detroit Red Wings have given us a lot to celebrate over the past 25 years, including four Stanley Cups," Illitch said. "Over the last several weeks, the team has made it really exciting as we celebrate each and every point that get us closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I don't think I've seen another hard working, community-minded and classy group. Whether on the ice or off, this team puts in tremendous effort into everything that they do. In addition to what you see at the Joe and on television, this Red Wings organization is active in the community, participating and lending their time to help those in need. From visiting sick kids in the hospital to ringing the bell for the Salvation Army to leading a smoke detector collection to raise awareness for fire prevention."

FSN Detroit color analyst Mickey Redmond was the moderator of the meeting. "Sometimes people don't care a whole lot, we don't have that problem here," he said. "When you get the Red Wings into an invocation, you know you're in the right place for hockey. This season has been a different one with collective bargaining, salary caps and injuries and the like."

The Red Wings are scheduled to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on 4/1 at 7:30 p.m., the Nashville Predators on 4/3 at 2:00 p.m.,the Philadelphia Flyers on 4/4 at 3:00 p.m., the Blue Jackets on 4/7 at 7:30 p.m. and 4/9 at 7:00 p.m. and will wrap up the regular season against the Chicago Blackhawks on 4/11 at 3:00 p.m.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

About 1,000 people attended this special meeting of the Detroit Economic Club at the MotorCity Casino.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Red Wings Owner Chris Illitch addresses the Detroit Economic Club.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

FSN Detroit Color Analyst Mickey Redmond was the moderator.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Redmond is known for his Mickeyisms like "bingo bango."

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Babcock shares some laughs during his speech.

 

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