Red Wings have to follow Babcock’s lead to get back in this series against the Bruins

Detroit head coach Mike Babcock has seen it all in his long career behind the bench.

Detroit head coach Mike Babcock has seen it all in his long career behind the bench.

For a while in Game Two, the Detroit Red wings lost focus and tried to stand toe-to-toe with the Boston Bruins, a burly team of manly men who like to drop the gloves as much as they like lacing up their skates.

That led to a loss on Sunday in Boston, and then back in Detroit on Tuesday, the Bruins outplayed the Red Wings to retake home ice in this first round series. Coach Mike Babcok was quick to take the blame, explaining that he failed to have his team ready for Game Three. He also made it clear that the Wings cannot defeat the favored Bruins by playing their style of game.

“If you’re a really good fighter, you should find employment fighting,” Babcock said after Game Three’s 3-0 loss at Joe Louis Arena. “You walk into the bar, and there’s this beautiful young gal standing next to this 6-foot-5 monster, who you know makes his living fighting for a living, and you’re the best pool player in the bar — are you going to play pool, or are you going to fight?”

Just to be clear, the Bruins are the monster in this analogy and Babcock’s Red Wings are the pool shooters. For the last two games, Detroit has not been themselves, instead they’ve tried to out-Bruin the Bruins. That’s not going to work.

Mighty mite Brendan Smith showed moxie when he stood up to Zdeno Chara at the end of Game Two’s 4-1 defeat. But it wasn’t the game plan, and Smith knows it. Most importantly, Babcock knows it, and he’s just the right guy to drill that into his young team.

The Wings have one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, maybe THE best. He patched together a bruised and inexperienced roster this season to guide the Wings to their 23rd straight appearance in the Greatest Postseason in Sports. Now that he’s here, Babcock isn’t going to settle for just making a show of it. A first round exit isn’t on his agenda. And if he can get his troops to play the puck-control, quick-skating style of game they orchestrated in Game One, the Wings can get back in this series and possibly even pull off the upset.

If the Wings can stop trying to act as tough as the Bruins and simply outskate them, they can have a chance to make Boston sweat a bit in a long series. For the Wings to win this, it’s probably going to take a Game Seven win back in the Garden in Beantown. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, anything can happen in a Game Seven.

The last thing Bruins’ coach Claude Julien wants is to face Babcock and the Wings in a winner-take-all-anything-goes dramafest of a Game Seven. Just last spring the Wings were in that situation twice, knocking off the #2 seed Anaheim Ducks on the left coast and nearly dropping the #1 seed Blackhawks in a Game Seven on the road.

Hockey is a game of adjustments, where a head coach, if he is decisive and bold, can make a huge impact on the fortunes of his team. If anyone can get the Wings past the Bruins, it’s Babcock, and his players know they have to follow his lead.