Young Red Wings have evened series with Blackhawks

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm •  Published: May 19, 2013
Advertisement
;

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings got much younger this year, rebuilding with rookies and prospects pushed onto the ice.

For much of the lockout-delayed season, it didn't look good for them.

The storied franchise used to chase Stanley Cup titles with key players in their late 30s and 40s such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Larry Murphy.

Not anymore.

As the Chicago Blackhawks are now finding out, the Red Wings are much better than they were during the regular season thanks to an improved cast of inexperienced players.

"We've had great growth from within, I think the most since I've been in the National Hockey League for sure," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Sunday. "That may be because we have a different type of team. We got a whole bunch of kids, so we have a chance for growth."

Red Wings rookie Brendan Smith scored the winning goal Saturday in Detroit's 4-1 win at Chicago that tied the series 1-1. The top-seeded Blackhawks won the opener by the same 4-1 score.

"We knew they were going to come back and play much better than they did in Game 1," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously, we didn't quite match the effort."

When the puck drops Monday night in Detroit for Game 3, Toews hopes his team is ready to bounce back.

"There's no time to waste in this series," Toews said. "We know going into their building it's even more difficult."

It will be even more challenging for Chicago if Toews can't produce as he did in the 48-game regular season.

Toews had 23 goals, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead and trailing just four players in the league. However, he is struggling to score for a third straight postseason.

Toews is in an eight-game playoff slump that dates to last year. He has just three goals combined in three postseasons since scoring seven goals to help Chicago win the Cup in 2010. He had seven goals the previous postseason — his first — when Detroit eliminated the Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals.

Henrik Zetterberg had a lot to do with holding Toews without a point in Game 2, an accomplishment that didn't surprise Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

"Most nights, he's the best player on the ice," Howard said. "No different from (Saturday), the way he was all over Toews the whole game, shutting him down. We're going to need that for the whole series."

Continue reading this story on the...