It was the last game of the season Sunday against Chicago, and the Red Wings second place spot in the Western Conference was firmly locked in. So coach Mike Babcock figured it was about time his leader on the ice got a break. Babcock gave captain Nicklas Lidstrom
the day off, allowing the Wings’ leader to rest before the playoffs begin on Wednesday (the Wings might start on Thursday). Joining Lidstrom on the list of players not dressing were forwards Marian Hossa and Kris Draper. What it meant for the Wings was that they were missing a defenseman who eats up 25 minutes or more, a forward who has scored 40 goals this season, and the Wings’ best face-off man. All of the contributions previously mentioned were sorely missed Sunday afternoon. The good news for the Wings is that Lidstrom is healthy, and Draper (day-to-day with an upper-body injury) and Hossa (sore groin) are both expected to be back by the start of the playoffs.
What went wrong?
The Wings struggled on the special teams Sunday afternoon. Detroit went 0-4 on the power-play, including failing to score on a five-on-three advantage for 1:04 in the first period. The Blackhawks scored one goal on three power-play opportunities. The Wings also ran into a hot goaltender in Nikolai Khabibulin, who stopped 37 shots for the shutout. Khabibulin, who is competing with Cristobal Huet for the starting job in the playoffs, kept the Wings from building any momentum throughout the contest with some big saves.
The Wings will spend the next few days preparing for the 2009 NHL Playoffs, and they are guaranteed home ice in the first two rounds. However, they don’t know who they are playing against yet. It will be either Columbus or Anaheim, depending on the results of the St. Louis vs. Colorado game, which starts at 5 p.m. EST. If St. Louis picks up a point, they will move into the sixth spot in the West, moving Columbus down to seventh to face the Wings. If the Avalanche defeat the Blues in regulation, then the Wings will square off against the Ducks. Be sure to check out detroitredwings.com for all your playoff information.