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Red Wings seek better effort for home fans

by Brian Hedger /
DETROIT -- After losing 6-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, the Boston Bruins should have ample motivation for the second half of a home-and-home series Sunday.
Considering how the Red Wings have left the ice in their most recent home game, they too should have plenty of fire at Joe Louis Arena for the NBC NHL "Game of the Week."
Detroit was not only soundly defeated 4-1 by the Nashville Predators in its previous home tilt but in a rare occurrence, Red Wings fans booed them off the ice. The Red Wings aren't lashing back at fans for expressing themselves so vehemently -- just the opposite, actually.
"The fans deserve better," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, who made 25 saves in a win Friday night win at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden. "They stick with us through thick and thin, and when we go out there with a lackluster effort … it's inexcusable and they deserve better."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock agreed. He found out how passionate Red Wings fans were during his first season coaching in Detroit.

After his team executed poorly on a power play, fans voiced their displeasure – which initially caught Babcock by surprise. The longer he stood behind the Red Wings bench, he started to understand why.
"You've got a pretty high standard here and I like that," Babcock said, following a short-but-tough Saturday practice at Joe Louis Arena. "You don't play good, you should get booed. When people pay their money, they expect you to work hard."
That's especially true in Detroit, where working-class sports fans expect their favorite teams to be as hard-nosed as they are.
"I consider us a blue-collar town and I consider our fans to be knowledgeable and expect us to compete hard," Babcock said. "We've lost many games over the years that I've been here, and if you play hard … it's not a big deal to them. You don't play hard, they should boo you. And we earned the right to be booed the last couple outings here. That's what fans are supposed to do."
It was a bit of a wake-up call for the Red Wings (33-16-6), who normally get plenty of adulation at home. This season, though, Detroit's play has been inconsistent on home ice -- despite a 16-8-4 record at Joe Louis Arena.
"They have that right. We deserved it," veteran forward Kris Draper said. "We all heard it and we should've heard it. It's unacceptable. One of the things we really pride ourselves about is our work ethic and the way we compete. That wasn't nearly good enough and those boos were well deserved."
As part of the promotion for the game Sunday, the Red Wings will give fans a free Fathead wall sticker commemorating veteran goalie Chris Osgood's 400th career win.
Osgood, who's currently recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia, will also be honored on the ice for the achievement. He earned win No. 400 on Dec. 27 by beating the Colorado Avalanche. His teammates also gave him a gift to celebrate the milestone, putting together a complimentary golf expedition to Scotland this summer.
The trip was planned by Draper, but several teammates have already said they'll come along as well -- including Henrik Zetterberg.
"We'd planned to go earlier for Drapes' 40th birthday, but for the guys to pay for me to go is great," Osgood said. "A lot of [nice] things have happened to me this year. When they happen, it makes you reminisce and think about things you've accomplished and it makes you miss playing more."
Also nice for Osgood was he wasn't asked to contribute toward paying for a milestone gift – something he's done plenty with the Red Wings over the years.
"That's another thing," he said, joking. "I'm probably still in the hole through the seasons. There's no negatives about playing here, but that is one thing – because there are so many guys who reach milestones and so many guys who turn certain ages here. We're always buying guys stuff and getting guys stuff. I'm probably 50 percent back to where I should be, put it that way.”
Osgood hopes to get back to skating exercises soon -- possibly as soon as next week.
After spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against the New York Rangers this past Monday, Detroit center Valtteri Filppula continues to rehabilitate it off the ice.
He's been labeled "week-to-week" by Babcock and Filppula isn't sure about a timetable for his return to action.
"It feels better, but I obviously haven't skated or anything like that," Filppula said Saturday. "So, I just have to take it easy and let it get a little better before I try it on the ice. We just kind of have to wait around for when it starts feeling good enough to try to skate on it, but it's not right now."
In other injury news for Detroit, defenseman Brad Stuart (broken jaw) and center Mike Modano (wrist surgery) are practicing and both hope to return to action toward the end of February during a five-game road trip.
Stuart is currently wearing a protective plastic face cage, but participated in all drills during Saturday's practice. Modano, who said his shot is almost back to normal, also went through the whole practice and put in some hard work afterward.

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