Score Strip

  1. League: NHL
  2. Boston vs. Detroit
    Live
    13:19 OT
    2 1 BOS
    2 4 DET
  3. Colorado vs. Minnesota
    Live
    9:25 2nd
    0 1 COL
    1 4 MIN
  4. San Jose vs. Los Angeles
    Live
    12:55 1st
    0 2 SJ
    1 3 LA
  5. View All

The demise of the Detroit Red Wings has been greatly exaggerated

Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Yahoo Sports

DETROIT — So many players have come through the Detroit Red Wings’ dressing room already this season, they’ve had to find a new facility.

View gallery

.

The Wings' roster has taken some hits, but they're still dangerous with Pavel Datsyuk . (USA Today)

In, ahem, the facilities.

Across the hall from the main room, tucked underneath the stands, behind the Wings’ bench, there is a bathroom. It is a women’s bathroom for concerts at Joe Louis Arena. It is makeshift TV and radio area at times, affectionately dubbed “Studio P.”

The Wings have built temporary stalls in the vanity area – in front of the mirrors and sinks, on the other side of the wall from the other kind of stalls – to handle overflow in training camp and the playoffs. This is the first time veteran equipment manager Paul Boyer can remember having to do it in the regular season.

But despite all the injuries and call-ups, on top of the retirements of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, on top of the loss of Brad Stuart in free agency, do the Wings stink? Is their 21-season playoff streak swirling down the toilet?

Nope. Not yet, anyway. The Wings entered Wednesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues on a three-game winning streak and sixth in the Western Conference, looking like they will remain very much in the mix, at minimum.

Their top two players – Henrik Zetterberg, the captain, and Pavel Datsyuk, the magician – are healthy and leading. Zetterberg went into the game against the Blues with 18 points, third in the NHL, behind only Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Chicago’s Patrick Kane.

They seem to have found another European gem, Swiss free agent Damien Brunner. He isn’t eligible for the Calder Trophy because he’s 26, but he leads all first-year NHLers with six goals.

They’re getting good goaltending from Jimmy Howard, even though his 2.78 goals-against average and .906 save percentage don’t reflect it, and coach Mike Babcock is scrambling to cover up weaknesses maybe more than ever before – learning what his team can do, adjusting its style, pushing, pushing, pushing.

“We can win if we’re organized and we look after the details and we compete our butt off,” Babcock said. “If we don’t do those three things, we have no chance.”

That was clear opening night. The Wings got smoked in St. Louis, 6-0.

“The Blues really …”

View gallery

.

Henrik Zetterberg is holding down a lofty position in the NHL scoring race. (USA Today)

Zetterberg laughed. He can laugh now. Sort of.

“Just killed us,” he continued. “We had no chance. Of course, we knew it was just one game, but the way we played and the way we showed up was not good enough.”

The loss stayed with the Wings for days afterward. They knew they weren’t on the same page. They knew they were two steps behind. They knew they were chasing the puck all night long. For the proud who had seen so many good days in Detroit, it was an odd, uncomfortable feeling.

“It was embarrassing, really, walking off the ice,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. “You didn’t really want to show yourself at the restaurants or anything for the next few days.”

And then it got worse. Or should have. The injuries started to pile up. It got so bad on defense – already down three of the top four from two years ago, when you add the retirement of Brian Rafalski after the 2010-11 season – the Wings had to sign free agent Kent Huskins and plop him into the lineup the same night, without even a morning skate.

But since opening night, Zetterberg has gone only one game without a point, and Datsyuk has been strong. The Wings entered Wednesday night having beaten the Blues in their last two meetings by a combined score of 10-4. They had won five of seven.

“The top two guys are incredible,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “I wish [Babcock] would have played them together. It’s a better matchup for us. When you play them separate, it’s pick your poison. We’ve always tried to get [David] Backes against Datsyuk, and now Zetterberg’s kind of doing his thing.”

Zetterberg has helped bring along Brunner, with whom he played and clicked in Switzerland during the lockout. Both Wings superstars have set the example for their teammates, as usual.

Look at Datsyuk in the past two games: The 34-year-old dogged the Edmonton Oilers’ hotshot kids – chasing down Taylor Hall and swiping the puck on the backcheck, badgering Jordan Eberle along the end boards in the defensive end. He took a nasty hit from the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, losing his helmet in the offensive end, but he popped right back up and raced back the length of the ice. He scored a gorgeous goal on his next shift, and then he got even more revenge.

This is not to condone head shots, and this is not to call Datsyuk dirty. He has won the Lady Byng Trophy multiple times for sportsmanship and a high standard of play. But he went after Doughty later.

“He just missed his head by about this much, too,” Babcock said. “He was going huntin’. He’s competitive – nothing wrong with that – whereas you’ve got other guys who get abused and then say, ‘Please, can I have another,’ instead of going huntin’.”

View gallery

.

Head coach Mike Babcock says new-look Wings need to play "scared" to be effective. (AP)

Babcock can’t say enough about Zetterberg, Datsyuk and their competitiveness.

“I mean, it’s great to be talented,” Babcock said. “But it’s another thing to be talented and really competitive, and that’s what they are.”

The Wings aren’t as talented as they used to be, especially when they’re thinned by injures, and so they have to be even more competitive than they used to be.

When they had Lidstrom and Rafalski on the back end, they could move the puck so well, they could afford to be spread out. They could get away with it. They didn’t spend much time in their zone.

Now, they have stay tighter as a group. They have to make sure they give each other solid passing options. They have to work harder in all three zones. The forwards have to support the defense, and when things inevitably break down, Howard has to make saves.

“Their forwards do all the work,” Hitchcock said. “They really help out, so their defensemen don’t have to make big plays, they’ve got to make the good little plays. … They’ve got a lot of speed on the checking. They really skate. This is the best they’ve skated to check in a few years now.”

The Wings can improve, especially if their health improves. Put Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm and Mikael Samuelsson back in the lineup, and you’ve got another line’s worth of NHLers – plus some minor-leaguers with added NHL experience. Hitchcock said the Wings are deeper than they have been in a long time.

But they’re going to have to improve, and they’re probably going to need that depth. While this portion of their schedule is home-heavy, they will play 14 out of 20 on the road from March 9 to April 20. The West will be highly competitive to the finish.

Gone are the days when the Wings could get comfortable, certain they would need extra space in that bathroom during the playoffs.

“Our best way to live is to live a little bit scared to death and just keep on grinding and competing,” Babcock said. “If we do that, we’re going to have a chance to hang in there. As soon as we breathe and think we’re something we’re not …”

That's when the Red Wings might really go from the penthouse to the outhouse.

NHL video from Yahoo! Sports:

Could Thomas Vanek win the scoring title?The Sabers' left winger has been on a scoring tear since the beginning of the season.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Olympic 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius charged with murder
Is clock ticking on UNC-Duke rivalry?
Bobcats eager to trade Ben Gordon after incident with coach
Drivers hounded about relationship between Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

View Comments
  • Buffalo Bills cheerleaders suspend operations

    Buffalo Bills cheerleaders suspend operations

    Pack up the pom-poms in Buffalo, because the Bills will be playing without the support of their official cheerleaders this year. Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said Thursday she has suspended … More »

    AP - Sports - 14 minutes ago
  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medalist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. Phelps was second in 52.13 in his first meet since retiring after … More »

    AP - Sports - 18 minutes ago
  • Westbrook's Amazing Three

    Westbrook's Amazing Three

    Russell Westbrook gets fouled and buries an amazing 3-pointer during the 4th quarter. … More »

    NBA.com - 18 minutes ago
  • Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 19 minutes ago
  • Westbrook's Big Three

    Westbrook's Big Three

    Russell Westbrook draws the foul and sinks an incredible three-pointer. … More »

    NBA.com - 20 minutes ago
  • Lolo's track transition continues at Drake Relays

    Lolo's track transition continues at Drake Relays

    Lolo Jones will continue her quick transition from bobsled to track this weekend with a hometown advantage. Jones will compete Friday at the Drake Relays in her native Des Moines, just two months removed from an 11th-place finish as a brakeman for … More »

    AP - Sports - 21 minutes ago
  • Everest climbing season in disarray as climbing teams cancel and more Sherpas leave base camp

    Everest climbing season in disarray as climbing teams cancel and more Sherpas leave base camp

    KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepal's attempts to salvage the Mount Everest climbing season took another hit Friday as more Sherpa mountain guides packed and left the base camp for their village homes a week after the deadliest disaster on the world's highest … More »

    The Canadian Press - 21 minutes ago
  • Senna had so much to offer, says sister

    Senna had so much to offer, says sister

    By Andrew Downie SAO PAULO (Reuters) - For Brazilians of a certain generation, the death of Ayrton Senna is not unlike September 11 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "It’s funny, it doesn’t seem like it was 20 years ago," hissister Viviane … More »

    Reuters - 25 minutes ago
  • Reds' Simon accused of sexual assault

    Reds' Simon accused of sexual assault

    A woman who said Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon sexually assaulted her in a Washington hotel a year ago when the team was in town to play the Nationals is suing the player for $15 million. The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed the civil … More »

    AP - Sports - 26 minutes ago
  • Everest climbing season in disarray after deaths

    Nepal's attempts to salvage the Mount Everest climbing season took another hit Friday as more Sherpa mountain guides packed and left the base camp for their village homes a week after the deadliest disaster on the world's highest mountain. Their … More »

    AP - Sports - 28 minutes ago
  • Udrih Spins and Hits

    Udrih Spins and Hits

    Beno Udrih spins off his defender to the rack and finishes with a layup. … More »

    NBA.com - 30 minutes ago
  • Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    MESA, Ariz. - Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medallist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. … More »

    The Canadian Press - 35 minutes ago
  • Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    TORONTO (AP) -- Chris Davis had two hits and three RBIs, Jonathan Schoop homered and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 on Thursday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 42 minutes ago
  • Pacers vs. Hawks: Game 3

    Pacers vs. Hawks: Game 3

    Jeff Teague scores 22 points and dishes out 10 assists as the Hawks knock off the Pacers in Game 3. … More »

    NBA.com - 43 minutes ago
  • Hawks take 2-1 lead on top-seeded Pacers

    Hawks take 2-1 lead on top-seeded Pacers

    Jeff Teague flung in a wild 3-pointer after the officials missed him stepping out of bounds, and Kyle Korver finished off Indiana from beyond the arc to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-85 victory Thursday night and another lead in the series with the … More »

    AP - Sports - 43 minutes ago
  • Teague scores 22, Korver 20 to lead Hawks past top-seeded Pacers 98-85 for 2-1 lead in series

    Teague scores 22, Korver 20 to lead Hawks past top-seeded Pacers 98-85 for 2-1 lead in series

    ATLANTA - Jeff Teague flung in a wild 3-pointer after the officials missed him stepping out of bounds, and Kyle Korver finished off Indiana from beyond the arc to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-85 victory Thursday night and another lead in the … More »

    The Canadian Press - 44 minutes ago
  • Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 49 minutes ago
  • Martin shoots course record 62, leads by two in New Orleans

    (Reuters) - Ben Martin fired a course record 10-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead in the opening round of the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday. Martin made light of gusting afternoon winds to reel off 10 birdies, capped … More »

    Reuters - 51 minutes ago
  • Toronto Blue Jays fall back to .500 mark after 11-4 loss to Baltimore Orioles

    TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays wasted a quality start by Drew Hutchison and fell back to the .500 mark by dropping an 11-4 decision to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. Hutchison worked six solid innings and left the game … More »

    The Canadian Press - 51 minutes ago
  • Conley's High Scoop Shot

    Conley's High Scoop Shot

    Mike Conley drives to the basket and sinks an amazing shot. … More »

    NBA.com - 59 minutes ago
  • Prince Down the Lane

    Prince Down the Lane

    Tayshaun Prince drives the lane for the finger-roll finish. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 1 minute ago
  • Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    By Todd Benson SAO PAULO (Reuters) - If your idea of Brazil is beaches and bikinis, São Paulo is not the place to go. But if you're a seasoned traveler who tends to shun traditional tourism hot spots for urban adventures off the beaten trail, then … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 1 minute ago
  • Swimming-Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    * Phelps narrowly beaten by Lochte in comeback race * Still satisfied with return despite loss * Qualifies for national titles later this year (Updates after final) By Julian Linden PHOENIX, April 24 (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 4 minutes ago
  • Golf-Martin shoots course record 62, leads by two in New Orleans

    Ben Martin fired a course record 10-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead in the opening round of the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday. Martin made light of gusting afternoon winds to reel off 10 birdies, capped off by a … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 8 minutes ago
  • Blatter wants to revive 6+5 proposal

    Blatter wants to revive 6+5 proposal

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to revive his so-called 6+5 proposal which would force clubs to field at least six players from their own country. The idea won the backing of the FIFA Congress in 2008 but was ditched after it fell foul of … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 12 minutes ago
  • Fresno St. finalizes DeRuyter extension

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter has signed a contract extension that runs through 2018 worth at least $7.5 million. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 13 minutes ago
  • The day Senna grabbed F1's attention

    The day Senna grabbed F1's attention

    By Alan Baldwin LONDON (Reuters) - While Formula One remembers Ayrton Senna on the 20th anniversary of his death at Imola, happier memories of another race 10 years earlier highlight just why the great Brazilian is still so sorely missed. The 1984 … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 15 minutes ago
  • Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

    Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

    By Andrew Downie SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Ayrton Senna is as discreet in death as he was lively in life. The last resting place of Brazil's most charismatic Formula One champion is marked by a brass plaque on a circular lawn, surrounded by almost … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 18 minutes ago
  • Ayrton Senna's Formula One career

    Ayrton Senna's Formula One career

    (Reuters) - May 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Brazil's triple Formula One champion Ayrton Senna in the San Marino Grand Prix at Italy's Imola circuit. The following details the main points of his career: - - - - * Born Ayrton Senna … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 20 minutes ago
  • Ryan Nelsen sympathetic to Moyse, believes fired Man U boss will succeed elsewhere

    TORONTO - Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen was quick to offer sympathy — and support — to fired Manchester United boss David Moyes. "He's very good at what he does," Nelsen said Thursday after practice. "And what (Roberto) Martinez is doing at … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 27 minutes ago
  • Teague Beats the Buzzer

    Teague Beats the Buzzer

    Jeff Teague drains an amazing 3-pointer during the fourth quarter. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 29 minutes ago
  • Wings' Zetterberg in lineup vs. Bruins

    Wings' Zetterberg in lineup vs. Bruins

    Henrik Zetterberg is in the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. Jonas Gustavsson is, too. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters that doctors would ultimately decide if Zetterberg could play Thursday night … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 30 minutes ago
  • Westbrook for Three

    Westbrook for Three

    Russell Westbrook comes off the screen to drain his first three-pointer of the game. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 38 minutes ago
  • Korver's Big Three

    Korver's Big Three

    Kyle Korver gets fouled and buries a 3-pointer from the wing. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 39 minutes ago
  • Martin shoots course-record 62 at Zurich

    Martin shoots course-record 62 at Zurich

    A few weeks ago, Ben Martin had missed seven of eight cuts and figured he'd better make some changes. On Thursday, Martin treated a tiny late-afternoon gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 in the first round of the Zurich … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 42 minutes ago
  • Udrih Sinks the Leaner

    Udrih Sinks the Leaner

    Beno Udrih sinks the leaning jumper off the screen by Marc Gasol. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 46 minutes ago
  • Perkins Sits On Miller

    Perkins Sits On Miller

    Kendrick Perkins sits on top of Mike Miller during the second quarter. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 47 minutes ago
  • Golf-U.S. PGA Tour New Orleans Classic scores

    April 25 (Infostrada Sports) - Scores from the U.S. PGA Tour New Orleans Classic at the par-72 course on Thursday in Avondale, Louisiana 62 Ben Martin (U.S.) 62 64 Andrew Svoboda (U.S.) 64 65 Peter Hanson (Sweden) 65 Noh Seung-Yul (South Korea) 65 … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 49 minutes ago
  • Imola still a shock 20 years on for Hill

    Imola still a shock 20 years on for Hill

    By Alan Baldwin LONDON (Reuters) - When Damon Hill casts his mind back 20 years to the Imola weekend that claimed the lives of team mate Ayrton Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, it is with a sense of almost disbelief. "I hardly got a chance … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 55 minutes ago
  • Former world downhill champion Kucera retires

    (Reuters) - John Kucera, the first Canadian man to win an alpine ski world championship downhill title, announced his retirement on Thursday following a string of injuries. The highlight of Kucera's racing career came in 2009 when he was the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 57 minutes ago