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Red Wings 'bottom six' help them come out on top

Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 11:10 PM

By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent / Predators vs. Red Wings series blog

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Predators vs. Red Wings series blog
Red Wings 'bottom six' help them come out on top
DETROIT -- Mike Babcock wasn't real thrilled with the play of his third and fourth forward lines down the last stretch of the regular season and into Game 1 of the Detroit Red Wings' Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinal series.

He told reporters prior to the second game on Friday at Bridgestone Arena that Detroit needed more at both ends of the rink out of his "bottom six" forwards and they responded in kind. Rookie Cory Emmerton, who centers the fourth line, scored his first NHL playoff goal on a great individual effort late in the first period to highlight the offense, but third-line wingers Drew Miller and Danny Cleary also drew recognition from Babcock on Saturday.

Justin Abdelkader
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 2 | +/-: -2
The pair played most of the game flanking third-line center Justin Abdelkader, but got put alongside star center Pavel Datsyuk near the end of the game with the Wings clinging to a  one-goal lead.

"I thought the Abdelkader line was our best line in the third period," Babcock said. "I actually took Abbie’s wingers away from him and gave them to Pav in the last shift, so that's what I thought of Miller and Cleary. I thought they were absolutely outstanding."

He also liked the play of rookie forward Gustav Nyquist, who filled in impressively for injured center Darren Helm.

"[In Game 1], their third line got three [goals] and our fourth line got two [Friday]night, so that's important," Babcock said.

"You need balanced scoring, timely goals like [in Game 2]," said Cleary, who's playing through a lot of pain in his knee because of fluid-filled Baker's cysts. "We all know the secret to having a successful playoff run is depth, all lines contributing. You need your bottom lineup chipping in, being good defensively. 'A lot of times your top lines [cancel] each other out ... [and] it's always some unheralded players that seem to be able to find a way, that score a goal here, make a big play."

Abdelkader agreed and said Babcock's comments did send a message.

"As a whole, everyone can do their part," he said of the Wings' bottom two lines."We can definitely contribute to this team. We want to definitely help the team out. We're not going to be counted on as much to score goals, but as a group we can provide energy and be strong on the cycle. We have the group that can contribute offensively and in the playoffs, that's what you need ... four lines going."
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My focus is always just to play as well as I can and do my job, no matter where the faceoff is.

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