Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose team has lost seven consecutive games to the Blackhawks, has a skilled team but knows better than to get into a track meet with a Blackhawks team that is equally skilled and has so much speed that Viktor Stalberg is expendable in a big playoff series.
''To me, the big thing for us is they have a real mobile back end and we have to get into that group or they're going to be on offense all the time,'' Babcock said Wednesday after the Red Wings' morning skate at the United Center prior to Game 1. ''If we don't get into that group, it's going to be a track meet up and down the ice. We don't need a track meet. We need a grind fest.
''We have to be very, very good with the puck. Take care of the puck. If we turn the pucks over and don't get through the neutral zone it's going to be a long series for our team.''
As for Joel Quenneville's decision to sit the speedy Stalberg for Game 1, Babock would not say how that might impact either team.
''What I've learned over the years is that their coach knows their team better than I do,'' Babcock said. ''So there's no sesne second-guessing him very much. He's going with the team he thinks gives them the best chance to win. He's a competitive guy who wants to win.''
Babcock seemed pleased that the NHL gave his team an extra day of rest after beating the Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim in Game 7 of their opening-round series. The additional day also figures to be a negative for the Blackhawks, who have been off since clinching their first-round series last Thursday.
''I like what's happened for us for sure,'' Babcock said. ''I'm a big believer that you race to four. You try to get it done as fast as you can. I've said that all along, all through the years. In some of the years, it hasn't helped the team when we've had too much time off. I guess the way I look at it is, whatever happens to you, you turn it into a mental advantage for yourself. That's how you live life. That's how you have success in life.''