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Babcock on Red Wings success, Datsyuk's impact

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Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock joined NHL Live to discuss reaching the 500-win milestone and Detroit's early-season success.

Babcock earned his 500th career victory Dec. 6 against the New York Rangers and won his 501st the next night at the Carolina Hurricanes to tie him with Pat Burns for 17th place on the League's all-time list.

Win No. 500 came in Babcock's 895th game. Only Hall of Fame member and former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who is first on the League's all-time list with 1,244 wins, reached the milestone in fewer games (825).

"It means you have good players and obviously you're fortunate," Babcock said. "When you first start in the League you just want to survive 82 [games]. You just want to get in the League and hang on for a little bit and build a platform to grow confidence and get yourself out there a name so that you can survive and you can go from spot to spot if you need to, or you can survive and stay in one spot. I've been real fortunate. Bryan Murray gave me my first opportunity in Anaheim and then Ken Holland getting me an opportunity with the Red Wings. I've worked with two really good men."

The Red Wings (17-6-5) have won three straight games and seven of eight, and are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points. A big part of their success has been a healthy Pavel Datsyuk, who was named the League's "First Star" for the week ending Dec. 7 after scoring seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games.

"When you look at our centers, Datsyuk, [Henrik] Zetterberg, [Riley] Sheahan and [Luke] Glendening, we have four very impressive men down the middle for us," Babcock said. "We've got a whole bunch of other centers as well in our lineup, so we're fortunate to have good centers. [Datsyuk], obviously, is one of the best players in the world. I think he's the best two-way player in the world. To have him healthy makes you a way better coach."

Detroit next plays the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena, where it's 11-3-2 this season, in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"I'm excited about our team as I've been in a long time," Babcock said. "We have the best group we've had since '09 when we lost in the [Stanley] Cup Final, a team that's going in the right direction."

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