CALGARY -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows the dangers of playing a team like the Calgary Flames, one that is long out of the Western Conference playoff picture and auditioning its young players.
He's just not sure if it makes them any more dangerous than the next team, considering Detroit has six games remaining on their schedule with a 22nd consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearance far from guaranteed.
"When you're playing teams at this time of the year, is it better to play a team that's in the playoffs and a little more comfortable?" Babcock said. "Is it better to play a team that's fighting for their life, maybe seized up a little bit? Or is it better to play a team that has some kids and they're just loose and dry?
"I don't know the answer to any of these questions and it's a waste of time thinking about it. Let's play."
The Red Wings hold the eighth playoff spot in the West with 47 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who have played one more game than Detroit, also sit with 47. The Dallas Stars are two points back at 45.
In other words, the situation at hand has struck the Red Wings.
"There hasn't been any panic, that's for sure but there's a sense of urgency," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "I think we've been playing with that for the last several games and it's going to be no different tonight. We're going to have to go out there and outwork [Calgary]."
It starts with a better effort against the Flames.
The previous time Detroit visited Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary won 5-2 despite the Red Wings outshooting the Flames 38-22.
"Last time we were in this building, I thought we had the puck all the time and kept giving it to them so they could shoot it in our net," Babcock said. "It was like Christmas for crying out loud, we gave so many away. You can't play like that. You've got to be patient and take care of it."
Here are the projected lineups for the game in Calgary:
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