Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Wings' Babcock stresses killer instinct

Categories: DET vs. PHO

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Detroit's Patrick Eaves, left, celebrates a goal scored by teammate Ruslan Salei as Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, right, looks on. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press) Detroit's Patrick Eaves, left, celebrates a goal scored by teammate Ruslan Salei as Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, right, looks on. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
"Get it over with." That was the message Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock delivered to his players.

Leading 3-0 in their Western Conference quarter-final series and poised to close out the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4 of the set Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena, Babcock dove into recent history to remind his team of what can happen if they take their foot off the gas pedal.

"The guys that have been here understand," Babcock said Wednesday morning. "We were in this situation against Dallas [in the 2008 Western Conference final] and had to go into Dallas and win a Game 6 to clinch the series.

"You just never want to let your foot off the gas. The teams that end up winning play less games than everybody else. People say it's a best-of-seven, I say it's a race to four. Why would you want to play more games than you have to?"

Babcock pointed to Vancouver's 7-2 loss to Chicago Tuesday in Game 4 of their series, a game in which the Canucks could have closed out the Blackhawks, as the best education his team could have had on what they need to do tonight.

"I think last night [in Chicago] is better than any coach talk," Babcock said. "Our players are smart guys, they watch. No team wants to lose, they want to keep their season going, they want to compete hard and they're going to lay it on the line. If you want to beat them, then you have to beat them.

"You don't just put your sticks on the ice. So anything I was planning on saying today, I thought is was better said last night.''

Last howl?

With no more losses to give, the Coyotes realize that most will have given up their playoff chances up for dead.

"I'm sure there's not a lot of hope for us outside of this dressing room," Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko said.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett saw only one route back for his club: one step at a time.

"This is not a good predicament to be in," Tippett said. "But the only way to attack a challenge is to get started at it.

"We have to find a way to win a game, not lose a game."

Injury updates

The Coyotes listed defenceman Derek Morris, who has missed the entire series with an upper-body injury, as questionable for Game 4.

"We miss his presence in there," Tippett said.

Detroit centre Henrik Zetterberg, out the whole series with a sprained left knee, is a definite no-go for Game 4.

"It looks to me he should be ready to go in the not-to-distant future," Babcock said. "We're in a good situation right now that we can give him time."

Powering up

After an 0-for-6 performance in Game 1, Phoenix's power play took the heat for the loss, but in Games 2 and 3, the Coyotes have scored all five of their goals while enjoying the man advantage and are clicking at a 31.2 per cent success rate for the series.

Now, it's their 5-on-5 play that's under scrutiny.

"Our special teams have been better than theirs in the three games," Tippett said. "If you look at our 5-on-5 scoring chances, we're getting as many as them, they're just burying theirs.

"In Game 3, their first two goals came on what I wouldn't even consider to be scoring chances. We had two or three great chances in the first period, they just didn't go in. We have to bury some chances."

Winnipeg thoughts

With all the speculation about the Coyotes moving to Winnipeg after the season, it served as a stark reminder of the opening round of the 1996 playoffs, when the Red Wings took out the Winnipeg Jets and then the franchise relocated to Phoenix.

Veteran Detroit centre Kris Draper maintains a strong bond with Winnipeg. It's where his NHL career was launched with the Jets during the 1990-91 season.

"I got drafted by them, I scored my first goal as a Winnipeg Jet, played my first NHL game there," Draper said. "Those are the kind of things you're always going to remember.

"The one thing that I've always said is that they could have kept me in the organization as a depth player. They felt I wasn't in their plans and they moved me, and that's something that I'll never forget and will always be thankful for."

In 1993, the Jets sold Draper's contract to the Wings for one dollar.

"Imagine if they didn't want to make that one dollar trade?" Draper pondered. "What would have happened?

"Coming here and being in the Wings organization since 1993-94, it's been an unbelievable ride, and I just want to keep this thing going."