Red Wings hobbled, but still strong

The perennially strong Detroit Red Wings know that nobody is going to shed tears over their woes, but the Red Wings have had a remarkable run of injuries. Tonight, they will be without Jimmy Howard (groin), Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Todd Bertuzzi (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper-body), and Justin Abdelkader is questionable because of flu symptoms. The Red Wings were riding high, with a record 23-game home winning streak, but now have a 2-4-1 record in their last seven overall.

“We’re not as skilled as we normally are, so we have to find a different way to win the game,’’ coach Mike Babcock said. “I think this is a great challenge for us to be excited about.’’

Of course, the Red Wings still have a goalie, Joey MacDonald, with a 1.82 goals-against average in 11 games this season, and players such as Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler and Niklas Kronwall, among others, and the last time the Kings visited Detroit, they were handed an 8-2 beating. Babcock was asked about facing the Kings tonight…

BABCOCK: “They’re a talented crew. Obviously they’ve had a year with some ups and downs. Darryl has gone in there, and they were well-coached before and they’re well-coached now. I think they’ve made some moves, some significant moves to try to improve their team. They’re right there in the battle. They’re going to be a desperate, desperate team. Their division has gone from, at the start of the year looking like it might go one way, to now they’re all battling to get in the playoffs. Everything is tight, and it’s going to be a tight game for us. We haven’t been as good here of late, and we need a win and they need a win, so it should be fun.’’

Question: Are they a different team since Darryl Sutter took over? Have they changed?

BABCOCK: “Oh, I think so, for sure. Every coach comes in and changes over time. Terry Murray was a really good coach, and they were really structured and organized. Darryl is a different kind of coach, but he’s been a veteran coach in our league for a long time. He does a real good job and he demands a lot out of his teams, and he usually gets a lot out of them. So this is going to be a hard game for us.’’

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