Howard looks to put Game 3 behind him

April, 19, 2010

DETROIT -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked Monday whether rookie goalie Jimmy Howard's teammates had left him out to dry in Sunday's Game 2.

"I think it comes back to the same theme," Babcock said. "A big part of playing defense is not turning over the puck. Because when you don't turn over pucks, you have good defensive structure. When you turn over pucks, you don't have good defensive structure, and then your goaltender doesn't look as good. I just think we have to be better all over structurally."

Howard vowed to forget Sunday's game.

"Being a goalie, you have to have a short-term memory," Howard said Monday. "You have to go back out there and do your job. I just think they were untimely goals, that's what I think they were. Thirty seconds into the game, 30 seconds left in the second period, the fourth one after we sort of got the momentum back. Those were untimely goals. They're momentum shifters and backbreakers in the playoffs."

Keeping a positive frame of mind is the only way to move on.

"You can't dwell on the negative, because if you dwell on the negative, that's when you know thoughts start to creep into your mind and that's when your whole game, the floor comes out from underneath, and the next thing you know, you're in shambles," Howard said. "So you've got to remain positive and continue to push forward."

Where's Rafalski?

Veteran Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski was absent at practice Monday.

"He had a maintenance day today; he'll play tomorrow," Babcock said.

It didn't appear as though any lineup changes were in the cards for Game 4.

"Not at this point, no," the coach said. "But the good thing about being the coach is that you have the right to change your mind."


OK, here's a quote from a player Monday. Guess the name of the speaker:

"They've been doing a good job through the neutral zone, slowing us down and really clogging it up there. When we chip the puck, they're always a step ahead of forwards and doing a real good job in the neutral zone. We have to come with more speed, but having said that, you have to get that puck in on them as well."

Was that a player from the Chicago Blackhawks or Detroit Red Wings? They could just as easily have been talking about either the Nashville Predators or Phoenix Coyotes. But it was Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom talking about the Coyotes.

Babcock's take

I asked Babcock to explain to a reporter like me who arrived just in time for Game 4 why Detroit was losing in the series. And he delivered.

"The team that's turned over pucks and ended up chasing it hasn't done very good," Babcock said. "When you're chasing the puck, you get exhausted fast. When you come to the neutral zone, and you continually turn it over and then you got to back check, it's not a very fun activity. You'd rather play in the O-zone than check all night long. And I thought in the second and third periods, after we had the power plays in the second period and that ended around the 10-minute mark, well, we didn't do anything the rest of the night."

Message for Zetterberg

Babcock can't stand it when players take too long a shift. Henrik Zetterberg must have been guilty of that in Sunday's loss judging from the coach's comments Monday.

"You know, it was interesting," Babcock said. "At the end of the night, Z played 20 minutes and Pav [Pavel Datsyuk] played 16 and a half minutes, and they both played the same amount of shifts. Exactly the same amount of shifts. So, why is that? Just a question I had."

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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