"(Nash) is a skilled player and a big guy with a lot of speed. You just have to be aware when he's on the ice because he can create a lot of offense from nothing and it's a challenge for us and we'll do our best to cover him."
-- Henrik Zetterberg
A smile creased the face of Detroit Red Wings
coach Mike Babcock while assessing a question prior to Game 3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets
at Nationwide Arena Tuesday.
How has your team been able to shut down Columbus All-Star forward Rick Nash
through two games of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series?
Babcock finds it a amusing that so much attention has been paid to Nash's offensive woes in this series -- no points in two games -- despite the fact he's been up against several of the League's best players each game.
"I think Nash has had some opportunities, but our goaltending has been good and ... now, you're talking about stopping Nash, but they also have to stop our guys too," Babcock said. "I don't know, we're trying to score as well, right?"
Nash, who had six goals in six regular-season games against Detroit this season, has gone pointless for a stretch longer than two games just twice this season -- in October (four games) and December (three games). Tonight, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock will insert his 40-goal scorer alongside two other players seeking their first points of this series -- center Antoine Vermette
and wing Kristian Huselius
"There's two parts to the equation here and it's great to say 'OK, we're going to match him up against someone different,' but you have to get him on the ice and we plan on getting our good players on the ice and he's going to have to play against some of them," Babcock said. "That's just the way hockey is. Your best players have to outplay their best players to be successful."
That's been the recipe so far. Columbus will have the last change Tuesday night, but that won't matter if the Blue Jackets can't jumpstart their offense. Detroit has outscored their opponent 8-1 in two games.
For the most part, Babcock has had the defensive pair of Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski
on the ice along with forwards Henrik Zetterberg
and Johan Franzen
whenever Nash hit the ice.
"(Nash) is a skilled player and a big guy with a lot of speed," Zetterberg said. "You just have to be aware when he's on the ice because he can create a lot of offense from nothing and it's a challenge for us and we'll do our best to cover him."
Nash is just looking to wipe the slate clean and get untracked on home ice.
"The last two games don't matter anymore -- they're over and done with," Nash said. "We can't fix anything about them. We have to move on and stay positive and gain momentum from being at home in our first playoff game ever in this building. I hope this place is rocking."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.