By: Jeff Riger
Friday morning both the Wings and Ducks gathered at Joe Louis Arena for their morning skate as both teams get ready for a critical game 6 of their best of 7 series. This skate had a bizarre feeling to it considering it could be Detroit’s last home game of the seasons and it could also be the Wings last game as a member of the Western Conference.
There are some lineup changes as Detroit gets Justin Abdelkader back after his 2 game suspension and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will play on the third defensive pairing in his first game of the series replacing Brian Lashoff. Patrick Eaves is a healthy scratch to make room for Abdelkader.
Colaiacovo was pumped up on getting his first chance to play in the series saying ”I’m jacked; I can’t believe the game is at 8 o’clock, I have to wait the extra hour. It’s going to be fun; I’m really looking forward to it. It’s my first playoff game at the Joe, I love playing at this building.” Colaiacovo has had a tough season marred by injury and inconsistent play; however one game in the playoffs could potentially help turn things around. “It’s been such a rough season, one that I really want to put behind me once this thing is over with. I could really make amends to it if we finish this thing well and finish it right and really cap off what has been a pretty frustrating season.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock was asked why he decided to go with Colaiacovo? “Well we didn’t move the puck! We struggled I thought in particular in that pair a lot in the game a number of shifts. We weren’t good enough so we are making a change” Babcock said. As for the reason that Eaves is scratched instead of another forward, Babcock wasn’t about to tell saying “that’s a real good question, plays good, does what he supposed to do, runs over people, competitive, competitive guy but because I know, have a little more inside information then you do that I’m not sharing with you. I got to have other guys to cover off other people in case they can’t survive. But, I did the same thing that you just did; it makes no sense to me either.”
When Abdelkader was suspended he immediately talked about how hard it would be to sit out a couple of playoff games and how he would have to act as a cheerleader for the team. On Friday, knowing that he would be able to get back on the ice told the media just how hard it was to sit out saying “it’s been tough to watch, nerve wracking! It’s not easy especially this time of year to be sitting home watching, knowing that maybe you can help out or do something that could help the team. It’s been tough!”
Babcock’s last question at the podium Friday morning prompted him to share a story between him and one of his younger players as to how he believes the Wings should start tonight’s game. “I explained to one of our guys, one of our kids that it’s kind of like a lawnmower. You know, you choke it, you start it and it’s revving for a few minutes to get going. We don’t need to be a lawnmower; we need to get that done in warm-up. We just need to be idle and perfect.”
Considering game 6 is an elimination game, it could mark the last game that the Wings play as a member of the Western Conference. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf who has been a part of many Ducks-Wings playoff matchups talked about the rivalry saying “it’s been great, we seem to play them every year at some point in an important game so it’s always been fun. This is my third time playing them in eight years so it’s always been a good healthy rivalry and it has gone both ways.” I asked Getzlaf if it would be fair to say that he will miss Detroit and he replied “Nope!”
I think I can say that the feeling is mutual!