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Off Day Practice quotes: Mike Babcock

Sunday, 05.25.2008 / 1:49 PM / 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Compiled By - NHL.com Staff

Q.  I was wondering if you could describe your philosophy when it comes to developing a strong puck possession team and how far this team has come along since you've come aboard?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  I don't have a philosophy, actually.  This puck possession is an interesting thing to me.  The more skill you have on your team, the more you have the puck, and you play a puck possession game and everyone calls it that.  But I think we're like most teams, we forecheck real hard and we back check hard, and we try to be in good spots defensively so we can have the puck.

But to tell you the truth, since I've been here, for me it's been a growing process.  You're always learning as a coach, just like anywhere you'd be, and you learn from having real good players.  And you try to improve your game by being creative, but also by stealing the best that everyone else does so you improve.

And you try to play the strengths of your players.  And we're real fortunate.  We have, I think, an excellent puck moving defense, and we have really good centers.  And when you have that, you have a chance to have, I think, the puck a fair bit.

So everyone talks about the Red Wings being like this.  But one of the reasons is they've had so much skill for so long.  If you don't have skill, you can't have the puck.  You've got to flip it ahead and chase after it all the time.  The other thing about it is when we had no "D"   we lost our top five "D" in the month of February there, we didn't win very many games.  We played hard, but we didn't win much.

There was no puck possession.  We didn't have the puck.  So now we're forechecking.  We're too small to just flip it and forecheck.

Q.  You made it clear early in the day yesterday you were going Zetterberg against Crosby.  You said it for all to hear.  Were you surprised you were able to get that matchup.  I know you have home ice advantage.  But they weren't working their way out of it.  They let you have it.  Were you surprised at that?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  No.  What are you going to do, tell Sid he's not playing?  You play your players.  I do the same thing.  You gotta get your people on and off the ice.  It's not like Crosby and his line and Malkin and Sid's line didn't have chances.  If you go through the chances, for us we were outchanced in the first period.  They had four power plays, and they outchanced us.  They outshot us and outchanced us.  If we don't have some puck luck in front of our net and things don't go the way   maybe they're up, and then the game's different.

So from our perspective, we've got to tighten up.  We gave up too much on the penalty kill.  We didn't think we got started on time.  Just being nervous and not handling the puck like we're capable of handling it.  And those are good players.  And the one thing about good players is they're real competitive.  If they don't like their game, their last game, they usually have a better game the next game.


Q.  Seems like you were focusing a little bit of your penalty kill on Gonchar, attacking him a little more than we've seen other teams.  Anything there?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  We never talked about that.  We talk about everybody.  We try to come up with the best scheme we can.  And before every round you prepare for the other team the best possible.  Now, the thing that stands out in my mind about their team is they have all the left hand shots on their first power play, lefty, lefty, lefty.

So there's a lot of one time shots when they're on the offside.  And they can all shoot it.  And really shoot it.  I mean Gonchar shoots a bomb.  Malkin shoots a bomb.  Crosby has a great release.  And then with Malone, you have a good net front guy and a great low walk in Hossa.  So to me they have all the ingredients of a real good power play.  That's probably why they're leading the playoffs in power play percentage.

Q.  As long as this game has played, there's never been a substitute for speed.  If you watch your team from the front line guy to the low minutes fourth line guy, every one of them seems like he can really move.  Is that an illusion the way you guys play or is it almost a prerequisite for playing for the Detroit Red Wings?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  We like to think we play fast.  In saying that, I thought at the start of the game, I thought, it was 50/50.  When I saw them pregame skate yesterday morning and I got in the car with Todd McLellan driving home, I said:  They're big and they're fast.  Now, sometimes it's the energy at this time of the year and the morning skate is quicker.  But they're very, very quick.  They have elite skaters on that team.  We think we've got good skaters, but there's lots of good skaters on lots of teams in the League.  That doesn't mean they're team's fast.  The puck moves faster than anybody.  The better spots you're in, the more organized, the quicker the puck moves, the faster you all look.  I thought we were faster in the second and third than we were in the first yesterday.


Q.  We might focus on the flash of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, but what about the physical tone they set, it seemed especially so last night?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  Pav led us in finished checks, by our count   I don't know what the stats said or whatever, but we had seven for them.

When they're competing, they're doing what they can to win.  This time of year no one cares who scores the goals or no one cares about any of that.  They care about winning.  They were competitive.  I thought they played well last night.  Saying that, obviously Sami picked us up last night, and it was great to see and Cleary had a big one.

So they're elite players, with and without the puck.  And they're good together, and they're good apart.  And we're fortunate to have them.

Q.  When you made the switch from Dominik to Chris, was your expectation that 12 games later Chris Osgood would still be the guy you were turning to every night in goal?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  I was sure hoping there.  I'm totally comfortable with that fact.  I met with Dom a couple of times, just like I would if Dom was starting with Ozzie, you gotta be ready.  You have to be professional.  You got to be ready.  He's really battle hard.  We're fortunate we have two Stanley Cup champions, and good guys who work hard.

And I think the big thing is in most situations, when you change your goaltender, you're going to a goaltender that hasn't had the kind of year that Ozzie had.  Ozzie was one of the best goalies in the League all year long and very solid the year before.

So we had a lot of confidence in him.  And then our teams played well.  And so that helps him.  But I thought Ozzie was excellent last night.  I didn't think our penalty killing was very good last night.  And I thought Ozzie had to be better than he normally has to be in the first 15 minutes of a game.

Q.  Seems like in a lot of these games you get a boost from, not your front line, and obviously Sami did that last night.  Can you just talk about that, about how this team seems to step up in the second and third line when you need it?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  I think the good teams   their team is no different.  To be here, Talbot had   if I'm not mistaken, Talbot had 4 points in his last two games going into last night.

And that's what you need.  You don't play unless everyone's involved.  We've got real good minutes out of Helmer.  I thought Helmer was nervous last night, yet gave us some real good minutes.  To me when you go through our group, that's what has to happen.  I thought Lebda had a good game for us last night.

To me to have success at this time of year, that's important.  The other thing is the checking on your star players is so tight.  There's no room that   there's more room for the other guys, and they're going to get some chances and ideally they can make good on them.

Q.  Can you update again on Franzen, please?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  Yeah, we haven't been able to find a doctor to keep him out.  So we're trying, though.  He's going to practice again   he's practiced today.  He's going to practice again tomorrow.  He's been cleared to do everything.  So one of these days he'll get cleared to play.

Q.  Were you satisfied with the explanation on the Holmstrom play, and if not, do you anticipate a conversation with the League?  I see you're wearing the colors today of your team.

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  Gotta remember where you're from.  As far as   that's a good question.  I haven't met with anybody from the League.  We'll meet with the supervisor tomorrow.  I assume at that time we'll get some sort of explanation.

Q.  Your players were talking a lot today about obviously it's a Stanley Cup Final.  You're going to go out and play hard regardless, but the fans helped them, reminded them of some of the older players of the Stanley Cups from 10 years ago, six years ago, and this town.  Six years is a long time.

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  I thought we were in Canada yesterday.  Before the game was great.  It was fantastic.  It was the loudest the building has been since I've been here by far.  Probably with the exception of when they introduced Stevie.  It was fantastic, and I think it's really important.  I think that our playoff run has been important for our city.  It's great just with the way the economy is in Michigan and all that kind of thing.

It's something real positive here in the community, and I know the community has rallied around us.  We've got great fans right across North America.  When we go, every place we go is sold out.  And it's great to   I was real excited when they told me that   the people in the office told me two minutes into when the tickets went on sale they couldn't get tickets.

So to me that was fantastic to hear.  And it shows you how passionate the people are.  And that's excellent for us.

Q.  We were asking a few of the veteran players in that room that have played with Nicklas Lidstrom for a few years, where they feel this guy rates, in the conversation about all time defensemen, and most of them said top three.  I know you've always spoken extremely glowing about him.  Would you concur with that sentiment?

COACH MIKE BABCOCK:  I haven't been around long enough to know the answer to that question.  But he's the best in my opinion, bar none, since I've been around.

But Bobby Orr was obviously beyond gifted.  And I don't know the Red Kelly's and the Harvey's that way, so I can't give you an opinion on that.

What I can tell you is that he's a special man who has a great talent who is beyond humble and has been a fantastic leader for us.  And his attention to detail is great, and he's a great model.  He's just great to be around.

I think it's important that your best players work hard and are humble and it's always about the team.  It's pretty hard for anybody else to be any other way.  He's fantastic.  And to answer your question, I mean, he'll win the Norris trophy again this year.  So I think that will make it five or six or something like that.  I think that speaks for itself.
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Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

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