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At the Rink: Devils at Red Wings

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings want to compete harder.

The Red Wings (19-9-9) play the New Jersey Devils (13-18-7) at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday, two days after coach Mike Babcock said he was embarrassed by his team's performance in a 5-2 loss at the Boston Bruins on Monday.

Detroit spent the past two days trying to regain its work ethic.

"The League's about competition level," Babcock said Wednesday. "We can talk about systems and all those things. When you don't win your battles on the wall, net front, you don't win the races, you don't win any games. So that's the competitiveness you need to be successful. Boston was way better in that area than we were.

"The game before in Ottawa (a 3-2 overtime win Dec. 27), Ottawa started and were way better than us through two periods. Catch-up hockey is losing hockey and you can't play like that. You take a lot of pride in your preparation, your competition level, if you're a good organization."

New Jersey has eight players out because of injury or illness and is in the early stages of a new coaching system since Peter DeBoer was fired Dec. 26. Adam Oates and Scott Stevens are co-coaches with general manager Lou Lamoriello also behind the bench during games in a supervisory role.

Oates coaches the forwards and Stevens the defensemen. The Devils are 1-1-0 with the new arrangement.

"I think we're transitioning right now as far as the coaches are concerned and we have to have patience," said Lamoriello, who handles the media responsibilities.

The players also are adjusting to it.

"They [Oates and Stevens] are two of the best players at their position that have ever played," goaltender Cory Schneider said. "So to hear them talk about offense and defense is a good thing."

Defenseman Andy Greene also talked about the change.

"It's been good. Obviously been a short week. A lot of information," said Greene, who is from the Detroit suburb of Trenton. "Both of the guys we're familiar with, especially [Oates] coaching here before."

Lamoriello discussed the challenge presented by the Red Wings.

"They're extremely talented. Of that, there is no question," he said. "They're a consistent team. Some of the best players in the National Hockey League."

Babcock said New Jersey is a dangerous team.

"Pete DeBoer is a real good coach. They played us real well the last time we played them [Detroit won 5-4 in a shootout in Newark on Nov. 28]," Babcock said. "Anytime there's a coaching change there's an initial bump, you're trying to impress the new boss; that's just the way that it is."

The Red Wings playing at home on New Year's Eve is a long-standing tradition but this will be their first New Year's Eve game since 2011-12. The lockout was still going on in the 2012-13 season and Detroit played in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor last season.

"It's a game that we need to win," Babcock said. "It's New Year's, people get all excited, the fans that come down here. We need to win a game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Dainius Zubrus - Scott Gomez - Jaromir Jagr

Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Mike Sislo

Tuomo Ruutu - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier

Joe Whitney - Tim Sestito - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Peter Harrold

Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas - Adam Larsson

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Seth Helgeson, Stefan Matteau

Injured: Bryce Salvador (lower body), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Michael Ryder (mumps), Damon Severson (ankle), Patrik Elias (mumps), Jacob Josefson (illness), Martin Havlat (flu), Stephen Gionta (broken hand)


Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Johan Franzen - Darren Helm - Gustav Nyquist

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Stephen Weiss

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Danny DeKeyser - Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith - Xavier Ouellet

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff

Injured: Jakub Kindl (elbow)

Status report: New Jersey recalled Sislo from Albany of the American Hockey League after Gionta sustained a broken hand Monday aganist the Pittsburgh Penguins. … Detroit placed Kindl on injured reserve and recalled Ouellet from Grand Rapids of the AHL on Tuesday.

Who's hot: Zajac had a goal and an assist in the Devils' 3-1 win against the Penguins for his first points in nine games. … Abdelkader has a goal in each of the Red Wings past two games.

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