DETROIT — Mike Babcock set down a mandate for his team.
“We need more from everybody,” the eight-year Red Wings coach said Tuesday, following a 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena.
That’s not a request. Chances are that it’s a demand.
After today, the Red Wings could be on the brink of elimination. Or they could be in a position to make it a best-of-three series. Given that the momentum in the best-of-seven series could turn, one has to ask if the Red Wings will be able to follow Babcock’s orders.
If the Red Wings want to have any chance to tie the series, they have to start scoring. The biggest problem facing the Red Wings in their first three playoff games? Offense, or a lack thereof.
Detroit’s top five playoff scorers — Drew Miller, Darren Helm, Pavel Datsyuk, Luke Glendening, and Johan Franzen — each have one point, and Datsyuk and Glendening have scored Detroit’s two playoff goals. By comparison, Colorado’s Paul Stastny entered Wednesday as the NHL’s leading playoff scorer with seven points, ahead of Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin (six points).
In three playoff games, the Red Wings have averaged 27.3 shots on goal, but have not been able to create or capitalize on high-percentage or quality shots.
“They pushed us outside,” Babcock said. “I thought we had better entries on our power plays but even then I thought we were held out on the outside on power plays, too. We had guys at the net, but you need more than a guy at the net. You need a guy at the middle and two coming in on the side. I didn’t think we had that.”
The Bruins continued to have a physical edge, as well, enough to create chances and to rattle the Red Wings, despite the fact that they out-hit the Bruins 30-25 in Game 3.
“Those things happened because we were skating well tonight,” Boston coach Claude Julien said after Game 3. “It’s OK to put pucks in the right places but if you’re not skating and not getting there, it doesn’t matter. I thought we were closing gaps and we were able to be physical. We can talk about being a physical team but you can’t be physical if you can’t skate and you can’t get there. So I liked their effort.”
Don’t expect that to stop for the Bruins today.
“We have to keep banging hard on those guys and not let them use that speed,” Boston right wing Jordan Caron said.
ZETTERBERG UPDATE: Red Wings captain and forward Henrik Zetterberg skated Wednesday at practice in place of Pavel Datsyuk, whose wife gave birth in the morning. Zetterberg said that he felt well after his first practice since sustaining a back injury during the Olympics and undergoing surgery Feb. 21. He wouldn’t commit to whether or not he would play today. Zetterberg has 16 goals and 32 assists in 45 games, but has not been in Detroit’s lineup after the Olympics.