Mike Babcock is having a great time coaching the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 playoffs.
"It's fun, it's the most fun I've had coaching in a couple of years, by far," Babcock said. "Just because we've got an enthusiastic group. Not that we didn't before, but we've got a really enthusiastic group. We've got good leadership. At the start of the year, we weren't a good team, but we understand that. We buckled down and we got better. The coaching staff is fun, the players are fun, it's been a fun year for us." The Red Wings hope the fun continues tonight as they meet the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals.
Mike Babcock is a lot happier these days as he has three good offensive lines.
The third line of Joakim Andersson, Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist has been outstanding for the Detroit coach as he put the trio together late in the regular season when the Red Wings promoted Nyquist and Andersson from the minors and dropped Brunner from the top line. "The Andersson line has been a key for us because we got worked in the three line the first two or three months (of the regular season)," Babcock said. "We couldn't handle it."
Damien Brunner is excelling on the third line with fellow rookies Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist.
Brunner has four goals and seven points in nine playoff games to lead all first year players. Brunner is not actually considered a rookie because of his age but it is his first season in the NHL after a very good career in Europe. He played a lot of the regular season with Henrik Zetterberg but his play in the playoffs has been excellent as a third line player. "I really don't think (Brunner) has a clue what's going on," Jimmy Howard said with a chuckle. "I don't think he understands the realm of things and what can possibly happen as the playoffs unfold. He's in a good mood every single game. We got a lot of guys with a lot of energy, and you can just see the excitement on their faces."
Niklas Kronwall picked up his second point of the playoffs Saturday.
After a 29 point performance in 48 regular season games, Kronwall has struggled in the playoffs offensively as he has only two assists in nine games. He assisted on Johan Franzen's third period goal, along with Jonathan Ericsson. Kronwall needs to pick it up offensively for the Red Wings if Detroit has any hope in moving on to the Western Conference final.
Coach Mike Babcock was very pleased to have Drew Miller back in the lineup.
Miller was out of the Detroit lineup since April 20 with a hand injury before returning Saturday. "I've got three penalty killers now on the fourth line," Babcock said. "Millsie knows how to play in all positions and he can really skate and get on the forecheck. He's not a big man but he's got a great stick and knows how to play, and so he makes us a much better team." Miller's return to the lineup bumped Todd Bertuzzi to the press box.
Henrik Zetterberg had two assists in the Red Wings 4-1 win Saturday.
The captain of the Red Wings moved into a tie for fourth place in NHL scoring as he now has 10 points in the playoffs, including three goals. He played 19:38 minutes Saturday and was the second star of the game.