Chicago Blackhawks: Mike Babcock

Wings determined not to dwell on collapse

May, 27, 2013
Custance By Craig Custance

DETROIT -- Mike Babcock isn’t a coach who typically addresses his team after a game. In his words, it never happens.

Following the Blackhawks' come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Red Wings on Monday, one that forced a Game 7 on Wednesday in Chicago, he made an exception.

Maybe it was the way the Red Wings lost, with mistakes in defensive-zone coverage that led to a flurry of activity in front of Jimmy Howard in the third period, a period in which the Blackhawks scored three goals to wipe out Detroit’s one-goal lead.

Maybe it was the way Detroit’s lead in this Western Conference semifinal series has completely vanished, its 3-1 edge a distant memory.

But Babcock felt compelled to speak. To remind his group that frustration from mistakes is wasted energy. To remind his young team that it did some things well in this loss. The Wings did, in fact, have the Stanley Cup favorites on the ropes for two periods.

"It’s not like they came in here and squashed us or anything," Babcock said.

It was about beginning to put this game behind them. To turn the focus to Game 7, rather than the path on which they got there. Because looking back is ugly and a reminder they’ve allowed a dangerous Blackhawks team to re-enter a series in which it looked nearly dead. They’ve allowed the Blackhawks to tune up their power play so well that it took all of nine seconds for Jonathan Toews to set up Marian Hossa for a first-period power-play goal.

The Blackhawks' stars are now outplaying the Red Wings' stars, and suddenly Detroit doesn’t have an answer for Chicago power forward Bryan Bickell. He scored his fifth goal of the postseason Monday night. It shows just how quickly a Stanley Cup playoff series can change.

"If I would have told our whole team before the series -- if I would have told Detroit, Michigan, before the series, we were going to be playing Chicago in Game 7, I think everyone would have been pretty excited about that," Babcock said. "I love Game 7s. I’m excited about it."

And chances are, Babcock suggested to his players that they flush this game out of their system. That they flush the blown series lead out of their system, because that was a message repeated often by the players after the loss. Flush it.

"You’ve just got to flush it out," Henrik Zetterberg said. "It’s part of playoff hockey. It’s first to four. It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there."

Said Niklas Kronwall: "We have to flush this and get ready and prepared for Wednesday."

And Howard on the message to the team: "Take a step back and just flush it."

It’s the right attitude because otherwise the focus is on how they might have already flushed their best chance at ending the Blackhawks' season.

With a goal from Patrick Eaves and a knuckler from Joakim Andersson that had no business beating Corey Crawford, the Red Wings went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead. But this is where the Blackhawks' experience shined through. In Detroit, you have a young team that is clearly struggling to close out games. And in this case, to close out a series.

The Blackhawks, however, are a veteran team that never believes it's out of it. Not even when the Hawks' season was down to its final period.

In that intermission, the message in the Blackhawks' room was to keep pressing. Put pucks on net. Don’t be afraid to make plays.

"It was just pure confidence," Toews said. "Our heads were just in the right spot. We knew what we had to do and we weren’t panicking."

That comes from experience.

"We just had to stay with it," Toews said. "We’re finding ways, we’re doing the right things to score goals and we’re confident when we get those chances that they’re going to go in somehow. We’ve got that momentum; we want to keep it."

The problem with Chicago maintaining momentum is that the team in this series that has played the best isn’t necessarily the one with the momentum. Usually, it’s been the team with the most to lose.

Game 7 puts the teams on equal footing in that department. For both the Blackhawks and Red Wings, one loss ends their season. How they got to that point has to be meaningless -- for both teams.

"Sure, we made some mistakes that cost us; that’s the way the game is played sometimes. You just have to stick with it," Kronwall said. "We just got to stay positive. Keep our heads high and refocus. What happened tonight is already history."

Hawks, Wings trying to avoid pressure

May, 27, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
DETROIT -- The scenarios are clear-cut.

If the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinal series on Monday, they force a Game 7 in Chicago. If the Detroit Red Wings win, they take the series and eliminate the Blackhawks.

What isn’t so definitive is which team is feeling any pressure entering Game 6. The Blackhawks said Monday the pressure is on the Red Wings, but the Red Wings said otherwise.

“We talk about it all the time,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after Monday’s morning skate. “Do you want to be tight and tentative or do you want to be loose and driving? Which one sounds like fun to you? Let’s play. There are six teams left in hockey. Play, let’s have some fun. The better you play, the longer you get to play. If you don’t play good, you get to go home.”

(Read full post)

'Masterful' Q worthy of Adams award

May, 16, 2013
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
 Joel Quenneville Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAfter a tough 2011-12 season, Joel Quenneville has made all the right moves this year.
CHICAGO -- As the individual awards start to finally roll in for the Chicago Blackhawks -- Patrick Kane was announced a finalist for the Lady Byng on Thursday -- there's at least one more that should garner Hawks attention.

Coach Joel Quenneville ought to get serious consideration for the Jack Adams Award given out annually to the league's top coach.

It seems like a no-brainer he would get the nod when the league makes the announcement of its three finalists on Friday, but that's not always the case for the coach of the NHL's best team. Voters like the underdogs who produce when least expected. It's why Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is the favorite to win the award.

Considering where the Hawks were a year ago to where they are now, up 1-0 on the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals, Quenneville should get recognition. As Hawks television analyst Eddie Olczyk put it, Quenneville has done a "masterful" job this season. Juxtaposed with the year he had last season it makes the Hawks turnaround even better.

(Read full post)

A lot has changed since last Wings series

May, 15, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp can remember a time when playing the Detroit Red Wings was an unpleasant experience.

Sharp joined the Blackhawks in 2005 and endured loss after loss to the Red Wings. The Blackhawks fell to the Red Wings 11 times in Sharp's first two years with the team.

"For a lot of years, the Wings beat up on us," Sharp said leading into Wednesday's Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. "I was here in 2005, and it wasn't fun playing that team. I feel like we've grown over the years. We've had some good games against each other."

(Read full post)



Patrick Sharp
78 34 44 13
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26