March 14, 2012 9:50 am

The view from Detroit

Detroit’s chances of winning the Central Division seem to be wilting — the Red Wings are now seven points behind first-place St. Louis — but who will want to face the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs? Presumably, by then they will have a handful of top players back from injury, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi and Jonathan Ericsson, and for most of this season, the Red Wings have been lethal on home ice. The Red Wings could have done some major damage to the Kings’ playoff hopes — both in a practical sense and an emotional sense — but the Kings played a solid game. Now, the Kings become big fans of the Red Wings. Detroit plays at Anaheim tonight, then heads north to face San Jose. Will the Red Wings give the Kings some help? Here’s how the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News covered last night’s game, followed by some additional postgame quotes from the Red Wings’ locker room…

Los Angeles 5, Detroit 2: Red Wings continue to stumble in March (Detroit Free Press)

Wings fall to Kings in Jimmy Howard’s return from injury (The Detroit News)

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COACH MIKE BABCOCK
(on the game…) “I didn’t think we played hard enough. I thought (the Kings) had a simple plan: get the puck in and get on the forecheck and grind it. I didn’t think we had enough resistance. … You’re not going to win with the approach we had tonight. … I thought we had a really good start to the second period and as soon as they scored a goal we got deflated and that was it for us. … I didn’t think we were competitive enough tonight. … I thought we matched up fine with the Kopitar line. I thought the Richards line got to do whatever they wanted and, in the end, affect our goal rotation.’’

(on Jimmy Howard’s return from injury…) “Not good enough.’’

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JIMMY HOWARD
(on the game…) “They played better on special teams than we did tonight. … It was a tough night for the special teams. … There were a lot of things I thought I could have done better. At the same time it was my first game back in a week and a half, so I have just got to continue to work hard in practice and get the rhythm back and feeling back of being out there. I thought the game was extremely fast in front of me, so I have to find a way to slow it down until I get back to the game speed of things… … We have got to find a way to win games and be better. Myself included.’’

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BRAD STUART
(on the game…) “We just had a bad first period. I thought (in the) second period we were a lot better, but at some point you have to make sure you’re ready to go from the start. You can’t be playing catch-up. It’s not winning hockey.’’

(on Detroit’s struggling power play…)“It can be a bit of a momentum changer either way. If you get out there and have a lot of quality chances and quality shots and you’re creating some momentum, it can be a good thing. If you’re not, it can kind of go the other way for you. We’ve struggled a little bit on the power play but you’ve just got to keep working and getting shots to the net.’’

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