Commentary

Wings won't engage in Bruins' tactics

Updated: April 21, 2014, 3:59 PM ET
By Craig Custance | ESPN The Magazine

Zdeno Chara, Brendan SmithAP Photo/Winslow TownsonSeriously, Brendan Smith? Backing away from a fight with Zdeno Chara was a good idea.

DETROIT -- Ultimately, there was no fight between Brendan Smith and Zdeno Chara when they momentarily went toe-to-toe near the end of the first period in Boston in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff quarterfinals on Sunday. For the Red Wings, and especially Smith, that's probably a good thing.

During the intermission that followed, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock gave Smith a quick reminder not to get sucked into playing the post-whistle game.

"There's no point of it," Smith said following Monday's optional practice in Detroit. "It makes sense, if you think about it, that's what they feed off of. ... We haven't done that all year. We're skilled. You know what gets us going? A great play. A great keep-in at the blue line and a goal. That's what gets our team going."

While Babcock's intermission conversation with Smith was brief, his analogy of the situation was lengthier. After practice on Monday, Babcock explained why he applauded Smith's decision not to drop the gloves -- despite Chara laughing at him during the exchange -- and encouraged Smith to stay disciplined as this series heats up. As far as coaching analogies go, this one is tough to top.

"I don't know why he'd go toe-to-toe with him," Babcock said. "I guess the way I look at it is, if you're a really good speaker, you should find employment speaking. If you're a really good fighter, you should find employment fighting. You walk into the bar and there's this beautiful young gal, standing next to this 6-foot-5 monster, who you know makes his living fighting for a living and you're the best pool player in the bar. Are you going to play pool? Or are you going to fight? Figure it out, seems simple to me.

"One guy is 6-foot-9, one guy is not. What would be the good decision? I guess what I'm saying is, you should do what you do well. Play pool."

With the series shifting back to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday, the Red Wings have made it a priority not to get too caught up in post-whistle activities, which is hard to do considering how experienced guys such as Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic are getting opponents off their game. Both Smith and Babcock hoped that they might get an assist with a more tightly called game from the referees.

"We would like the refs to take a little bit more control of that, and they might," Smith said. "Maybe that was the first test and you don't know what it's like. That's something we'll see what happens."

Said Babcock: "I assume they're not letting you run people on icings anymore. I figure they've probably got that figured out after [Sunday]. Little things like that, I assume those things will get cleaned up."


After beating the Bruins in Game 1 to steal home-ice advantage from the Presidents' Trophy winners, Babcock didn't like how his team responded in Game 2. He singled out the poor breakouts on the power play and forechecking on the penalty kill along with Detroit's inability to play with speed as issues he sees need fixing. Credit the Bruins for shaping the game into a style more suitable to the way they want to play, while getting the Red Wings distracted with physical altercations.

"We want to play between the whistles and be very disciplined. We'll protect ourselves at the moment. Once it gets to be too long, punches thrown, we've got to get out of there," Smith said. "We're looking to win the series. That's the biggest objective. Winning a fight with someone or the battle means nothing."

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