Nabokov Shuts Out Wings

Detroit hosted Evgeni Nabokov and the New York Islanders in Monday’s pre-Christmas contest. The Wings faced a couple waves of adversity when defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, and later, Brendan Smith, went down with apparent injuries in Monday’s game.Coach Mike Babcock spoke to the media about the untimely play that has affected the Red Wings them gaining momentum all season long.

“The bottom line is we played catch-up all night long,” Babcock said.

“I thought we made it easy on their team. We never got in on their D; we weren’t physical like we have been or heavy in the offensive zone. We had a push in the third period when we hit a couple of posts, but reality is, catch-up hockey is losing hockey, we say that all the time. You have to start on time, do things well.”

The Red Wings have been plagued by injuries throughout every single evening this season. It seems as though, when a big time player returns, another one leaves with a new injury, which developing a new void for the Red Wings to grasp and figure out.

Babcock, who is in his eighth season as the Red Wings head coach, understands when his team needs rebuilding from the bottom. He also understands when they have the talent, but are not providing the production.

Game in and game out, the team finds a new way to challenge their opponents, but Monday there was not enough traction under the Wings driving force to gain two points.

“We’ve had a hard time getting traction,” coach Mike Babcock said.

“We had a number of injuries, but began to battle our way back to get some traction, and I thought our intensity in the first period wasn’t good enough. They scored on their shots and I don’t think we did much. They didn’t do much either, but they scored.”

Both starting goaltenders Jimmy Howard (MCL Sprain) and Jonas Gustavsson (pulled groin) are currently nursing injuries, giving AHL goaltender Petr Mrazek a chance to show what he’s got. The young goalie is 1-2-0 on the season, with a .910 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average. The Detroit Red Wings defensemen must begin to give their goaltenders some help in wake of their two big guns being down.

Niklas Kronwall, the Wings number one defenseman, took blame for the defense.

“We didn’t really give him much help,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.

“What’s he going to do? He came up with some big saves for us. We didn’t give him a chance.”

The Red Wings productivity against the Islanders was not necessarily blamable upon any individual Red Wing. In fact, the Islanders’ veteran goaltender was the reason for the opposing team’s success on Monday.

“For us, a win against this type of team is huge,” Nabokov said.

“That’s part of experience. You have to figure out how to win. Hopefully we did that today.”

Nabokov posted a shutout against the Red Wings speedy, youthful team, going 23 for 23 on even strength and facing no shots on the power play or the penalty kill. The Islander goaltender stood tall against multiple good chances from Red Wings forwards and even a few great opportunities from Brendan Smith.

Smith is going to have to step up in the next few weeks after the Red Wings got word about their number two defensemen, Jonathon Ericsson, being out of the lineup for the next 3-5 weeks after sustaining fractured ribs on Monday against New York.

As the Detroit Red Wings try to nurse themselves back to health and coach Babcock tries to create new remedies for victory, the team will take a four-day holiday break to spend with their families and regroup for a more than important second half of the season.

The Wings will face-off again on Saturday, December 28 against the Florida Panthers at 7 p.m. EST.

* * *

Information from the Detroit Red Wings was used in this report.

For more information on the Detroit Red Wings and NHL hockey from analysts and journalists at Michigan State University – tune into Octopi Hockeytown podcasts and embrace the Spartan debate at www.impact89fm.org/sports

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Austin Goodman is the host of Octopi Hockeytown for Impact Sports

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Scoring Summary:

1st Period:

NYI – 10:57 – K. Okposo (Wrist) J. Tavares, T. Vanek

NYI – 15:07 – M. Grabner (Wrist) J. Bailey, F. Nielsen

NYI – 16:55 – C. Cizikas (Wrist) M. Martin, C. McDonald

2nd Period:

No goals recorded.

3rd Period:

No goals recorded.

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Three Stars:

First: Evgeni Nabokov

(23SA, 0GA, 1.0SV%, 2PIM, 23-23EV, 0-0PP, 0-0SH)

Second: John Tavares

(1A, +1, 3 shots, 19:33 TOI)

Third: Kyle Okposo

(1G, +1, 1 shot, 19:00 TOI)

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