Fighting through injuries, Red Wings beginning to find their groove

DETROIT - Take a look at the standings, and you can see the Red Wings aren't the class of the Western Conference.

Take another look at the standings, and you can see a logjam of teams clogging the middle of the standings, and the Red Wings smack in the middle of it.

"We're not as good a team as we wanna be, but we're making significant strides," head coach Mike Babcock said.

12 teams are separated by just six points, and a shortened schedule makes every game that much more important.

Looking at the Red Wings play the last two weeks, they have taken steps towards being the team fans are used to seeing the past two decades.

"Everybody in here feels good about the way we're playing most of the nights,'' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.

After a five-game winless streak, the Red Wings have won three of their last five, with points in four of the games.

"We're playing tighter. We realize we're not gonna score five goals every night. We're gonna score maybe two, hopefully three," Johan Franzen said.

"This is the way we want to play. We've played like this for years. Sometimes you get a little loose. We got away from it, and things get a little 'loosey goosey.'"

Babcock said lineup changes because of injuries have hurt the team and took days to adjust. In the 48-game season, days become games, and at first, the Red Wings suffered through that adjustment period.

"We've won on an inconsistent basis, but I think we've been consistent," he explained.

Franzen said the team's recipe for success is winning low-scoring games by counts of "2-1, 3-2."

"If we can minimize our mistakes, we give ourselves a better chance to win. We can beat any team in this league," he explained.

Babcock agreed and pointed to the lack of scoring in the last five games. Aside from the eight-goal barrage against Vancouver, Detroit has only seven goals in the other four games. That's just under a two goal-per-game average.

"We're on the right track. We need to capitalize on our chances and try to play even better defensively," Kronwall said.

As far as injuries are concerned, Darren Helm (back) hopes to skate this week, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) is skating, but doesn't have a timetable for return, and Valtteri Filppula (upper body) skated alone Monday but Babcock said he's not expected to play this week. Todd Bertuzzi (back) remains a long-term injury.

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