DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) After a breathtaking game that had his team taking the playoffs series lead, a jocular Red Wings coach Mike Babcock called into the Stoney and Bill show on 97.1 The Ticket to discuss the team’s sudden success.
“I don’t know how responsible I am, but it’s nice to be part of something,” Babcock said, adding, “I think we’re working, were getting good saves out of Howie, the bottom line is you’ve got to find a way as a team to do it … Just by being competitive we’re giving ourselves a chance.”
On the Blackhawks unexpected misfortune he said, “(It’s a) high-flying, high octane team and you can’t get your power play going, that’s usually a real source of frustration.”
It seems like the energy in Joe Louis Arena has been louder this series than during any game in recent years, Mike Stone pointed out. Babcock said there’s a reason for that.
“I think for a number of years we just came to the Joe and sat on our hands because we were supposed to be better than everyone else, it was our right,” Babcock said. “I think our fans are a little more fired up, there was no expectation for this group and the group has done well.”
One of the things getting fans fired up is Jimmy Howard’s spectacular netminding, which has emerged as a national storyline.
“The more and more we talk about you … The bigger you’re built up,” Babcock said. “When the media’s telling a story, they build it bigger, everything’s bigger.”
Many are wondering if the Blackhawks are falling apart or if the Wings, a team that struggled all season, have become that good. Babcock said it’s a combination of factors, including the Wings getting back to old-fashioned “meat and potatoes” play.
“I think Chicago’s outstanding, what they do really well, their retrieval on the puck,” Babcock said, adding the team puts four on top of it and outnumbers the Wings, “doing an excellent job of it.”
But this is what the Wings are doing: “There was no pretty plays, it was just meat and potatoes, get it to the net, instead of skilling our way around, we worked our way around.”
Babcock praised the Wings’ training and development staff for the team that’s been created. “It’s ended up being an unbelieveable thing, the players we get are ready to play, they’ve doing a good job.”
So, does the coach have any game day superstitions? “My wife likes to say I do, not really, superstitions are about trying to control the uncontrollable. The reality is when the guys play well, we win. When you’re on a streak, you’ve got to respect that streak.”
CBS Sports recently chose Pavel Datsyuk as one of the five most likeable guys left in the playoffs. Does Babcock agree?
“He’s hilarious,” Babcock said. “He’s beyond smart and he has a twinkle in his eye, he’s looking to have a laugh, he’s just a good person, unbelieveable work ethic and determination, a great leader, he loves his teammates. He’ll be in the rafters one day at the Joe, he’s that determined. I’m proud to coach him, he’s a good, good man.”
Speaking of popular players, the injured Vladimir Konstantinov has been seen around during the series, and Babcock said they’re all happy to have him.
“It’s a huge deal, it’s great to have those guys, he’s a heck of a guy, he’s got a great sense of humor, each night I make sure to talk to him,” Babcock said, adding that Konstantinov, who was injured during a car crash that happened when a drunk limo driver was transporting him following the Wings Stanley Cup victory in 1997. Konstantinov, once unable to walk, has worked hard to get his health back.
Turns out, right now, he’s in the arena to play through his injuries.
“He fell down and separated his shoulder, and I said ‘It’s the playoffs, you’ve got to play through your injuries,'” Babcock said, laughing. “We’re proud of him and he’s a big part of our organization … Those people are always welcome, and the guys embrace him when he’s around. He was a warrior, an absolute warrior for this team.”