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Coach Babcock's morning skate transcript

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media following the team's optional morning skate on Sunday prior to Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena.

Here is what he had to say:

QUESTION: Now that it's here, can you just give us a brief update about how you feel about the back-to-back games coming off a win? Now you're already back in the morning skate?
MIKE BABCOCK: I don't think I should talk about that. What's next?

Q. Update on your guys? Everybody comes through that game OK, and could you have anybody enter the series for the first time tonight?
BABCOCK: We're not going to have anybody enter tonight. So everyone's fine.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit about what goes through your mind when you see a kid like Justin (Abdelkader) come through for you on this stage for the first time last night?
BABCOCK: Well, I think Justin's a real good player. And Justin would probably have a more important role on our team if we weren't up against the cap so far during the year. He would have gotten up for 15 or 20 games.
The big thing with coaches is trust. It's hard to be a good player, I really believe this. If a coach doesn't trust you, won't put you out there.
So in the situation playing against Pittsburgh is because they played (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin on their fourth line, it's hard to have a kid who has never played in the National Hockey League go head-to-head with him.
So we didn't use him very much early. We used him as the game went on, and we felt that we were in a better situation that way. I thought he did a good job how (Ville) Leino and (Kirk) Maltby on that line were excellent. They spent some time in the offensive zone. He scored us a goal. He's going to be a good player. He's a North American kid who finishes checks. Plays the game hard. So he's an important part coming to our team.

Q. Could you just evaluate Jonathan Ericsson's play on the basis of the fact that he had, you know, surgery and had to go in and seemed to play pretty well?
BABCOCK: He's a real good player. He's got the long reach. He's got the ability to get his hands out and get you on his back and make that good pass to get you going with speed. He's a guy who is going to be, I think, an elite player in the league for a long time.
No different for Johnny and Helmer and Abby is they didn't get to play like this year very much, and they've come in and done a great job.
With the injury to (Andreas) Lilja, no one even talks about him. Lilja's an important player in this team. And with the injury to him before the playoffs he's come in and basically saved us, or we would have been in trouble without him.

Q. Do you see any big difference between the Penguins of a year ago and the one you saw last night, the team?
BABCOCK: I thought they were ready to start on time. A year ago this series heated up as the series went on. This year it started -- I thought the first period was fantastic. Now the ice, in my opinion is poor. It's hot and it's humid, so that effects the play. But there was no room out there last night. I thought it was hotly contested right from the git-go.
But, you know, I thought there was a ton of turnovers in the game. Partly because the execution wasn't good, but partly because it's so tight. They're checking really hard. And I think we are as well. So I think it will be a really good series.

Q. Maltby seems for some reason against this team to get under the skin of Crosby. How can that help you guys out?
BABCOCK: I don't know if it can, to tell you the truth. I don't think he's going to be deterred by anything like that. To me the battle they had going last night between (Henrik) Zetterberg and Crosby was a great battle, I thought. I thought he went head hunting right off the hop. His ability to respond was good. I think that's a game within the game. If you're a hockey purist and you like superstars who bring it, that's a nice match-up.

Q. Can you talk about the emphasis you guys have on your concept for face-offs? Not only just the centermen, we always look at that as an individual stat. But this comes from you to the players of how important it is to get help on those face-offs?
BABCOCK: I think it's real important. Yet saying all that, some nights you have good nights and some nights you don't have good nights. Lots of time it's a momentum thing.
But we try to focus on it because we think having the puck is way more fun than chasing the puck. So that's been a focus, you know, anywhere I've ever been. And obviously we've got good people here.     But to me you get started on time if you have the puck. In this series in particular with the skill level they have, you don't want them to have the puck.

Q. (Pavel) Datsyuk didn't skate today, and has he regressed at all or just relaxing?
BABCOCK: No, I think it's the same. They did a ton of work on him yesterday. My son said to me after the game. He said, 'Dad, Pav can hardly walk. I said yeah, but if you worked out as hard as he does all day long to try to get back, you could hardly walk either.' So let's not read into that. He was limping coming out of the building last night. So there's no chance for him today.

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