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Wings accept factors for slow start

by Phil Coffey / Detroit Red Wings
Injuries? No excuse.

New players? No excuse.

New coaches? No excuse.

The NHL is a bottom-line place, so excuses aren't acceptable among fans, media, players, coaches, etc.

That does not mean, however, that there aren't factors into why a team is succeeding or failing. Let's take a look at the Red Wings as an example. Heading into weekend play, the Wings are a pedestrian 3-3-2, having scored 24 goals and allowed 28. So why the middling start?

We're talking transition here and not the on-ice version of going from offense to defense. A veteran club over the past several seasons, the Wings are icing a fairly significant number of newcomers on the roster this season. An excuse for the start? No, but a factor to be sure.

"Every night we play with six forwards who didn’t play for us last year," coach Mike Babcock told Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. "It's a bit of a change. But if you look around the league, it's the same for everybody else."

Detroit is playing Justin Abdelkader, Ville Leino and Jimmy Howard, three rookies, so that's an adjustment. Johan Franzen is out until February after knee surgery. Also factor in that Darren Helm and Jonathan Ericsson are full-timers this season, not the case last season. Again, more transition. And Todd Bertuzzi, Patrick Eaves, Jason Williams and Brad May are experienced NHL players, but not experienced Red Wings players.

Again, not excuses, but factors to be sure.

"Right off the hop, there's a lot of information to take in," veteran Kris Draper said. "But the bottom line is you have to go out and play a game. I think what you've seen early is guys trying too hard to be in the right spots. The more you think, the slower you are, right? It's just a matter of going out and playing and getting more confident in playing with different guys in certain situations."

"I think when you have new players it's a matter of them getting used to our system and getting to know how we play," Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You can't just insert a number of players and expect to be right back where you want to be all the time. It takes time sometimes, and that's why you have to stick with the system that you're playing and stick with your foundation and not get away from playing the way you want to play."

Despite it all, however, Babcock sees no reason for the Red Wings to languish.

"What's important to understand is, it doesn't matter how you win. You just gotta win," he said. "If you are not playing like you did in the past or if you have to do things a lot harder -- so what? As a team, just do it for one another, dig in and find a way to win."

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