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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Red Wings glad to be back home


DETROIT — Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom says it was good to open the season in hisnative Sweden.

Holmstrom says it's better to be back at Joe Louis Arena.

“Here is home,” Holmstrom said earlier this week. “It was a great experience to see friends and family, but the way we played was terrible. We didn't show up for the whole 60 minutes in either game.”

Detroit began the regular season overseas, blowing two-goal leads in two losses to the St. Louis Blues, and is motivated to earn its first victory in the home opener tonight against Chicago.

“I'm looking forward to getting a win,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn't like the way things went. The families had a good time, the guys that were from there had a good time and it was a good experience. But we went there for points, and we came away empty-handed. St. Louis played harder longer.”

Babcock planned to give his players Sunday and Monday off after arriving home, but decided to put them through a practice on Monday.

“I didn't want to carry around two losses for that many days,” he said.

The Red Wings eliminated Chicago in the Western Conference finals last year, then came within a victory of repeating as champions in a Stanley Cup finals rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It's going to be tough because the Blackhawks are a good team,” Holmstrom said. “We know we can't get away with playing hard for only 20 or 30 minutes like we tried to in Sweden.”

Detroit could not afford to keep some of its key players in the offseason. One of them, Marian Hossa, signed with the Blackhawks, but shoulder surgery is expected to keep him out until at least November.

The Red Wings are hoping to get one of their injured forwards, Darren Helm, back on the ice after he missed the first two games with an injured right shoulder.

“That would be a boost for everybody,” Babcock said.

Even though Babcock was disappointed with the results and uneven effort from his team in Sweden, he was encouraged by center Valtteri Filppula, who centered a line with Jason Williams and Ville Leino.

“Fill's line was the best,” Babcock said. “I got nothing against Fill, Willy and Leino because they're good players. But I don't want to tell you that every game all year.”

In other words, he wants Henrik Zetterberg's and Pavel Datsyuk's lines to lead the way.

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