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Wings look to eliminate slow starts

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – When he was asked about Wednesday’s abysmal first period, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock jokingly suggested that he might need to set an alarm prior to the start of Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal.

“I got a text from somebody I know real well – coached in the league a long time – this morning, and he said, ‘Remind your team the game starts at 7, not 7:45,’ ” Babcock said. “We took too many penalties and so you look like you’re bad, but I really thought we took over in the second period.”

Thankfully, the Coyotes didn’t take advantage of the six power-plays, including four in the first period, given to them by the Wings. Detroit managed to kill off any threat from the Coyotes, including a critical 5-on-3 advantage early in the game.

“I was surprised at how tight it was last night,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “And yet, we warned (them) before the game, we didn’t make an adjustment in the first period, and we went to the box. That’s our problem; we have to fix that problem.”

Adapting to the playoff rules that referees focus on during this time of year was something that some Wings’ players talked about following Thursday’s option practice. Babcock said the officiating crew, led by former referee Don Koharski, reiterated – to both teams prior to the start of the series – the points of emphasis for the referees calling this best-of-seven game series.

“Sometimes I don’t know why we change,” Babcock said. “I think we made great adjustments to the game a few years back, I think those adjustments should be maintained all the time. … These guys want to ref in the Stanley Cup finals, and in order for them to do that, they have to do whatever they’re told.”

Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said that the league’s focus is on making players keep their sticks down.  Eight of the nine minor penalties called in Game 1 were for stick-type violations for hooking, tripping and high-sticking.

“We were told before this series started that they were going to clamp down on sticks parallel to the ice,” he said. “Whether you’re hooking someone or having your stick on someone’s gloves, they were making those calls, so it’s something you have to know going into the game.”

BERT’S BOUT: Danny Cleary hinted that he was a bit jealous of Todd Bertuzzi following the power forward’s second-period fight with Phoenix’s Rotislav Klesla. That’s when the sold-out JLA crowd chanted, “Todd Bertuzzi!”

“I asked him, ‘I guess that’s what you have to do to get your name chanted around here,’” Cleary said. “I told him, ‘I don’t know if I like it because, then you’re gone for five minutes and the lines get all mixed up’. He really wants to win, there’s no doubt about that in my mind. He picks his spots at the right time and is a good momentum builder for us.”

Goalie Jimmy Howard said the team appreciated the momentum boost that the fight provided.

“It’s a good lift,” he said. “A good boost for the team and for the crowd, they really enjoyed it and it was good to hear them chant Todd’s name, it’s good for us.”   

INJURY UPDATE: Star forward Henrik Zetterberg, who missed Game 1 with a lower-body injury, skated by himself Thursday morning. It was the first time that he’s been on the ice since the injury occurred at Carolina a week ago.

When asked if that meant Zetterberg might be ready for Saturday’s Game 2, Babcock joked that day-to-day does indeed mean day-to-day, referring to the Swede’s status.

“There’s always a chance,” Babcock said. “He’s day-to-day. I keep telling you that.”

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