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Wings look to play better in front of net

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The Red Wings have lost only four times in regulation at Joe Louis Arena this season. The problem is that in three of those games – including two in the last week – the opposing goaltender has skated off the ice as the No. 1 Star.

That’s intolerable for the team that sits atop the Western Conference with 41 points heading into a Central Division game with the St. Louis Blues (14-9-5) on Wednesday.

“The goalies were the first star in this building – Nashville and then (Kings goalie Jonathan) Quick the other night,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “So, to me that’s unacceptable for your team to let the other goalie be the first star.”

Quick turned aside 51 shots and handed the Red Wings their first shutout in nearly a year when he guided Los Angeles to a 5-0 victory on Monday. Last Wednesday, Predators rookie goalie Anders Lindback made 35 saves in Nashville’s 3-2 win at JLA.
The Red Wings (19-7-3) are offensively successful, particularly on the power-play, when their forwards cut loose with a more physical brand in front of the net. And Babcock wants to see more of that traffic in front of the opposition.

“As great as (the goalies are) allowed to be we have to back them into the net and be hard on them and get enough second and third chances,” he said. “You can look like the Globetrotters on the outside, but the game is won on the inside.”

In the three games where the opposing goalies were the No. 1 Star, they collectively stopped 129 of 133 shots in nine periods. Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov dealt the Wings their first regulation loss of the season back in October.

“We’ve got to score,” Babcock said. “We have to put the puck in the net. We have to have a better net-front presence and we have to make sure that we have more opportunities.”

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