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Babcock was wary of January 12

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Well before the 2009-10 season even started -- heck, well before training camp got under way -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had a feeling his team would experience difficulty on Jan. 12 on Long Island.

He was right.

After winning three of four games on the West Coast, the Red Wings returned home for practice on Monday and then flew to New York to face the up-and-coming Islanders, who were coming off an impressive three-game trip of their own that saw them earn four of six points.

All Babcock could do was stand behind the visiting bench Tuesday night and watch the defending Western Conference champions get outplayed from start to finish in a 6-0 loss at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"I looked at the schedule and I knew in the summer," Babcock said. "When you've been through it before, you understand it. Does that mean you want it to be like that? I thought if we could weather (the storm early) and get through (it), we'd get playing. We never got playing. They were just better than us. Period."

Hoping to light a spark midway through the second period, Babcock replaced Jimmy Howard in goal with veteran Chris Osgood. But just like Howard, who allowed three goals on 20 shots, Osgood -- who hadn't played in nearly a month -- saw three pucks go by him.

"I just thought Howard has been playing real good for us," Babcock said. "Obviously, things weren't going well and Ozzie hasn't played much. We've got some back-to-backs coming up and we're going to need Ozzie. I thought it was important to get him in a game."

But no matter what Babcock tried to do to shake up his team -- including shuffling some lines -- Detroit came up empty. The Wings had just nine shots on goal (two in the second period) through 40 minutes and finished with a season-low 16, giving Isles goalie Dwayne Roloson his first shutout in a span of 81 games.

"Nothing worked," Babcock explained. "I was just like them."

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