By: Jeff Riger
Thursday afternoon the Wings held their final practice before hopping on a plane and heading to Nashville where game 5 will take place on Friday night. This series has been funny in the fact that every fan and media member sees it in a different way and diagnoses different problems for Detroit who is on the brink of elimination. Some people say the Wings have not got enough quality chances on goalie Pekka Rinne while other people say Jimmy Howard has been the main reason this team is down 3 games to one.
So I decided to go to the source!
We know what the fans and media have been saying but what about the players and Mike Babcock?
Below are answers from the people involved to the top storylines that exists in this series…
There is no question that Detroit has outshot the Preds. In game 4 alone, Detroit registered 41 shots while Nashville had just 17 and the rest of this series has been similar. In fact, there has been just one game that the Preds came away with more shots on net and that was game 2, the only contest that Detroit actually won. Of course, nobody cares about how many times a team fires the puck at an opposing goalie; instead it’s all about if those chances are quality enough? Many Wings fans believe that Nashville has kept Detroit skaters to the outside and even though shots have been easy for the Wings to come by, they have not been the kind that will result in goals. Even Fox Sports Detroit analyst and former player Mickey Redmond believes that the Preds have done an outstanding job of keeping the Wings to the outside thus rendering their shots useless.
So what does Mike Babcock think?
“I even heard Mickey Redmond say well they (Nashville) are keeping them on the outside.” said Babcock ”I watched the game then I watched it on my computer and again yesterday so I have actually watched it three times to see if that’s the truth? You know, to see if we are never getting to the net and never getting on the inside? All I can do is go on what I see and I don’t think that is the truth.” Babcock later told the media that he would like the Wings to play the exact way they did in game 4 in game 5 on Friday night with the exception of a couple defensive breakdowns.
Babcock also was asked about his net minder Jimmy Howard and all the blame that the 3rd year player has been forced to shoulder this series? “You know I think it’s tough to be the goalie” said the head coach. “We average 26 (shots) against, we were one of the lowest teams in the league with shots against all year long. So now we are at 22.8 and if you are the goalie you are just standing there freezing. The other guy is getting more opportunity, the more shots you get, the more opportunity you get to look good. That’s the facts!”
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has been sensational in this series so far but is he unbeatable? That was the question that reporters were asking in the dressing room on Thursday afternoon. Captain Nick Lidstrom was asked to reminiscence as to who the best goalie he ever faced in the playoffs was? “I think (Jean- Sebastien) Giguere comes to mind” said Lidstrom. “He’s the guy that really sticks out, that has been playing well especially in the past.” I then asked Lidstrom is Rinne has reached that “Giguere stratosphere?” “It’s hard to say” said Lidstrom. “He’s playing real well for them but they are playing well in front of him too.”
Of course this time of year is not only about the playoffs, it’s also about speculating if Lidstrom will come back for another season as Detroit’s best defenseman. The captain was asked if he had allowed himself to think that game 5 could be potentially the last game he will ever play in the NHL? “No” Lidstrom said. “I don’t think like that, I think I have learned from other years that I try to push that aside and just go out and play a real solid game and come out with a win.”
Babcock was also asked the same question at the podium and replied a little more stern. “Yeah, I have been hearing that same story for five years now” said the coach. “The way I look at it is that we have to win a game, I haven’t thought much about Nick. When Nick decides to retire I’m sure I’ll be (the 4th person to hear about it), it will probably be his wife then his kids and then the community and I’ll be right after that, I’ll hear it on the news somewhere probably. Who knows? I’d be shocked if he retires but I have been shocked before.”
So, who you got in game 5?
Will it be Lidstrom’s last game in the league?
What about Holmstrom, who is going through the same scenarios?
Here’s hoping that we can put all that talk off at least for the weekend…