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Red Wings, Down 3-0, Sticking Together

May 5, 2010 – 1:28 AM
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Christopher Botta

Christopher Botta %BloggerTitle%

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings culture does not call for a hot-shot prospect to save them when they drop the first three games of a playoff series. A slumping veteran is not benched by a head coach calling attention to himself, saying the team needed "shock therapy." A journeyman does not come out of the press box to become the next game's No. 1 star.

Whenever this run may end, the Red Wings are going to go with the guys that brought them here.

In Motown, it's the same old song -- and who can blame them?

Look at the box score from Detroit's stunning 4-3 loss to San Jose in Game 3 on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. It looks like it could have been published in 2009 or 2008 or, for that matter, before the NHL lockout.

Goal, Tomas Holmstrom. Goal, Dan Cleary. Goal, Henrik Zetterberg.

The only difference is, the Red Wings lost.

Sharks lead series, 3-0
Sharks 4, Red Wings 3 (OT): Recap | Box Score | Series Page

"The reality is that we've dug a huge hole for ourselves," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "We will come in here (for practice) tomorrow and get our mind right. They're human. There's no sense worrying about anything besides our next game."

Be prepared for 48 hours of one-win-at-a-time proclamations from the Red Wings until they host Game 4 on Thursday. There will also be the inevitable history lessons about the 1975 New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs of 1942. Those are the only teams to win an NHL playoff series after trailing 3-0.

"The reality is that we've dug a huge hole for ourselves. ... They're human. There's no sense worrying about anything besides our next game."
-- Mike Babcock
The 2010 Red Wings certainly have the ability and resumes to at least put a scare into the Sharks. Even in defeat on Tuesday, they showed glimmers of greatness. Holmstrom opened the scoring with a goal -- prepare to be shocked -- from about two inches away. Cleary's tally was workmanlike. For two periods, Zetterberg was wondrous. He contributed a goal and an assist, yet his spotlight moments were a disallowed first-period goal (directed with his skate) and a failed penalty shot (credit goalie Evgeni Nabokov for an acrobatic save).

Pavel Datsyuk, a terrific reason for the NHL to return to a balanced schedule and showcase its finest, was everywhere except on the score sheet. Nicklas Lidstrom, the 40-year-old captain with nary an ounce of slippage, logged over 30 minutes.

Anything less than a spirit-lifting victory by the Wings is unacceptable for this proud franchise.

"We need to push for a Game 5 in San Jose and go from there," said Lidstrom.

Said Zetterberg: "Let's win the first one, build off the confidence and see what happens. We have the players to make it happen."

Do not expect a major shakeup of the lineup. Of course, the Red Wings don't have a precocious prospect a la P.K. Subban pushing for a promotion. When you contend for a Stanley Cup every year for almost two decades, you don't even watch the draft lottery.

As for the handful of solid prospects the Red Wings do have, general manager Ken Holland insists on not calling them to the big club until they are "overripe." Holland would rather have a Wings jersey stitched up too late than too early. Instead, Babcock relies on homegrown youngsters like Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader to augment bottom-six warriors Cleary and Kris Draper.

This is the Red Wings' way. In the aftermath of a crushing defeat, they acted with class. The same group will be back on Thursday. Count on a different result.
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