Red Wings coach Mike Babcock thinks Blackhawks can repeat
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 22, 2014 9:51PM
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Updated: February 24, 2014 1:19PM
DETROIT — No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1998, and no team has come close since the Red Wings in 2009, when they lost a six-game series to the Penguins after losing star center Pavel Datsyuk for the first four games to a foot injury.
But Red Wings coach Mike Babcock believes the Blackhawks can pull it off this spring.
“It’s hard,” Babcock said. “I’m a big believer to this day that if Pavel doesn’t get hurt, we do it. But if [the Hawks] can keep their group healthy, they’re going to have a legitimate opportunity.”
The Red Wings know all about injuries. They entered Wednesday’s game having lost 211 man games to injury, and Datsyuk missed his eighth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville knows health will be a big factor down the stretch, as it is for any team. And he doesn’t believe having 10 players in the Olympics — as the Red Wings also have — changes anything.
“Certain teams over the course of the year get stung like they have,” Quenneville said. “They’ve had an extensive group. You can’t forecast that; that’s all part of the game. Things can happen, things will happen. I just think our guys being as represented as we are overseas, we’ll root for them, but we expect them to play hard and whatever happens, happens. That can happen whether you go or you don’t go.”
The flip side
As momentous as last year’s seven-game second-round comeback victory was for the Hawks, it was just as crushing to the Red Wings. Defenseman Brendan Smith was asked if seeing the Hawks win the Cup was easier or harder after coming so close to eliminating them.
“That’s a tough question, actually. Both?” he said. “It makes it easier in the sense that we were that close. [But] I think the next point is if we could have maybe finished it off, because we had a bunch of chances — I thought [Corey] Crawford played really well — that we could be in that same spot. That’s a tough one.”
The Hawks play in Minnesota on Thursday. Antti Raanta is expected to start in goal.