Game 7 Wings vs Hawks Game Day Updates

Let's take 'em down Smitty! - Jonathan Daniel

Who's in, who's out, who's up, who's down, and who's playing with who.

This is it. We either go big or go home. All day I've been alternating between finding my zen and feeling at peace with whatever happens, and feeling the nearly irresistible urge to curl up under my desk and throw up in the trashcan. I know that we can beat the Blackhawks tonight. I don't know what will happen, but I stand proud of this team regardless. This team, my team, OUR team, has scratched, clawed, and found a way to win every time they've had to. Someone posted a comment after game 3, I think, asking something like "do you think the hockey gods will give you two more wins...?" You know what the hockey gods have given the Wings this year? Big ol' flaming bags of poop... Over and over again. Nothing has come easy for the Wings this season, and everything they have they're earned from their blood, sweat, and tears, and that's not going to change now. Jeff wrote in the morning skate "Give 'em hell, boys." and that's exactly what I want to see. Mike Babcock once said "Make the decision and go like hell". The decisions are made and the lines are drawn; all that's left is to go like hell. Regardless of the outcome tonight, I want Jonathan Toews to have haunting nightmares about Henrik Zetterberg for years to come. I want Corey Crawford jump and scream like a little girl every time someone says "Pavel Datsyuk", and I want Joel Quenneville to see Mike Babcock's Death Stare everywhere he goes.


The dirt
  • There will be no lineup changes for the Wings. This is the team that got us this far and this is the team that gives us the best opportunity for victory. For anyone that missed the multi-volume discussion over the last couple day about Brendan Smith, and whether or not he should be playing, the answer is yes. Babcock's job is to ice the players that give the team the best shot at winning, and that's what he's doing. When DeKeyser got hurt and Babcock had the choice to play Ian White or Carlo Colaiacovo, he chose Cola. That says a lot to me. Ian White isn't that great, hasn't played since April, would be rusty as hell, and probably worse than Smith. We've gotten this far with this lineup, and it's best (for the team now, for the players, and for the future of the team) to keep Smitty in. Smith has far more motivation to play well tonight than White would. The growing pains Smith is going through are going to have to happen in order for him to become the defenseman he can become. We've delayed those growing pains long enough, it's in his best interest, and the best interest of the team, for him to stumble, fail, learn and grow now. The higher the pressure and stakes, the more he'll learn. And even as bad as he's been at time, he STILL gives us a better chance to win than Ian White does right now.
  • We may however see some changes on the powerplay units. In practice, the powerplay unit was an "umbrella formation" with Datsyuk and Franzen flanking, Zetterberg roaming the zone, Abdelkader in front of the net, and Kronwall on point. I have no idea if we'll see in tonight or not, but Ansar Khan reports that Babcock said

"Our biggest thing in this series on our power play is their 'four go,' '' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That's when a puck is shot and it's on the wall and they got four guys going. Our power play retrieval part of it hasn't been good enough. So their four guys are working harder than our power play to get it back.

"If you're one and done your power play's not very good because there's no skills plays happening, you're just shooting and they fire it down and you work on your breakout. That's a lot of exercise. It's way more fun wearing them out in their zone.''

  • There was a Rolling Stones concert last night at the United Center, but the Hawks aren't worried about the ice being bad at the UC, because Michael Frolik says they're used to it. While Detroit and the staff at the Joe take pride in having some of, if not THE best ice in the NHL, the Hawks take comfort in the fact their ice is crappy and they're used to it. I hope their low standards come back to bit them in the ass.
  • Despite what many of the Hawks players and writers would have you believe, all the pressure is in fact on the Hawks to win. The Wings have already exceeded most people's expectations for them this season, but if the Hawks don't win tonight, their season is not a success and they may be in for some big changes this summer.
  • A team takes on the identity of its coach. His attitude, character, and demeanor are reflected and exhibited by his team. Babcock's demeanor and message to his players today, is to have fun, enjoy themselves, be loose, and play hard. Brendan Savage tells us the players are excited and ready to have fun.

"It's going to be a blast," goaltender Jimmy Howard predicted Tuesday after the Red Wings arrived in Chicago. "Starting from warmups tomorrow night the crowd is going to be loud. They're going to be in it.

"It's going to make for a great atmosphere, exactly what you want in Game 7."

"You dream about winning these games when you're a kid,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "These Game 7s are fun. You definitely see what you're made of. That place is going to be loud. We'll enjoy the national anthem and just get ready to play.''

"You have to,[stay loose]" Zetterberg said. "I think we all know it's Game 7. It's win or go home. But that makes it a lot more exciting to play. Preparation-wise, you just do what's normal. I think it's a lot of fun going and playing another Game 7.

"We know what we went through last time before that game (against Anaheim in the first round) and just gotta go out and play the same way."

"You just try to go out there and do what you do," Kronwall said. "I think if you try to go out there and do too much, and you're over-excited now you're going to put yourself in a bad spot and make it tough on your teammates. So just try to continue doing what you do and we'll be just fine.

"When you're younger you play in the street outside of your house and these are the moments that you kind of look forward to. You want to pretend that you're in these situations, so we have to embrace this opportunity that we have in front of us."

"I think it's unbelievable," Babcock said. "It's as much fun as you're going to have. There are six teams left. So we're in the best league in the world and there are six teams left. You must be doing something right and it's a lot of fun. And everyone else is at home watching, so you want to play as long as you can.

"It's not February, I can tell you that. The longer you're in it the more excited you are to be in this and you understand how hard it is. You can have great teams and lose in the first round, so the reality of the situation is we have a great opportunity tomorrow. We're excited about it and we'll be prepared and ready to go.

"It should be a lot of fun."

  • Our third and fourth lines answered the call to arms in game 6, scoring all 3 of Detroit's goals. Babcock said depth is what wins you the series, and while that's true, we need a big game from our big players tonight. In the last four games of the regular season and games 6 and 7 against Anaheim, when the Wings needed them the most, Zetterberg and Datsyuk combined for 8 goals and 18 assists for a total of 26 points in 6 games. Babcock has confidence that they'll come through once again.

"The way I look at guys like that, when they haven’t scored in a bit they’re due, they’re bound to come through,'' Babcock said. "When you’re a good player and you work hard and you’re determined eventually you’re going to break out.

"Those guys are like money in the bank as far as I’m concerned.''


  • There are a lot of stats I could throw out, but they only tell part of the story. They tell a story about the past, about what's already in the history books. Tonight isn't about the past, and it's not going to be as much about the stats as it will be about determination, confidence, passion, and execution. In the hockey world, we use the word "grit" a lot, and it's been used to describe this Red Wings team often this season. Grit is defined as:

"firmness of character, indomitable spirit ,firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger."

That's what this team has, and that's what they need tonight.

  • Quenneville believes goalies are pretty important... Mike Babcock says hold your horses there buddy...



  • Jimmy Howard has been the better goalie this series and his passion, determination, mental fortitude, and revulsion to losing, give me confidence that Jimmy Howard will come up big tonight. It's not going to be easy thought...



  • Kane also said if they have to throw 50 shots at Jimmy, that will be their goal. He just stole that line from Todd Bertuzzi in game 7 against Anaheim.

I'll leave you with this thought from United States Army General George S Patton Jr. that perfectly illustrates why the Red Wings season has already been a great success.

"The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom."

We've already come further than 27 other NHL teams, and we've done it with less than a lot of them, and the least we've had in a long time. My plan is to sit back and enjoy tonight, to live in the moment and cherish every moment I get to watch each of our boys, to marvel at their skill, talent, character, and growth. To appreciate every additional minute I get to watch my team play and compete, and hope I get the pleasure of doing it for at least another four games after tonight.

Lineup

Forwards

Johan Franzen

Pavel Datsyuk

Justin Abdelkader

Valtteri Filppula

Henrik Zetterberg

Daniel Cleary

Gustav Nyquist

Joakim Andersson

Damien Brunner

Drew Miller

Cory Emmerton

Patrick Eaves

Defense

Niklas Kronwall

Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey

Brendan Smith

Jakub Kindl

Carlo Colaiacovo

Goalies

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Jordan Pearce

Healthy Scratches

Todd Bertuzzi

Jordin Tootoo

Ian White

Injured

Danny DeKeyser (Broken Thumb)

Darren Helm (Back)- Out for the season

Mikael Samuelsson (sore boob)

Blackhawks Lineup

Forwards

Patrick Sharp

Jonathan Toews

Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell

Michal Handzus

Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad

Andrew Shaw

Viktor Stalberg

Marcus Kruger

Dave Bolland

Michael Frolik

Defense

Duncan Keith

Brent Seabrook

Michal Rozsival

Nick Leddy

Johnny Oduya

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Goalies

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Henrik Karlsson

LET'S GO RED WINGS!!!

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