DETROIT – Less than 24 hours after his team was shut out in Game 3 of its first-round series against Anaheim, Detroit coach Mike Babcock wanted no part of any gloom and doom.
“You can make this as a reporter as bad as you want, or you can make it as good as you want. You’ve just got to choose your attitude,” Babcock said Sunday.
“I’m going to choose mine and I’m going to say we were right there knocking on the door and we’re going to win tomorrow and make it a best-of-three.
“That should have wrapped that up. We don’t need any more questions, do we?”
Babcock was joking, since there were obviously going to be a few more minutes of questions.
When Babcock spoke to reporters Sunday, the Red Wings were facing the prospect of playing without Justin Abdelkader after the left wing was ejected from Saturday’s game for his hit on Anaheim’s Toni Lydman.
Sure enough, the NHL suspended Abdelkader for two games later Sunday. He’ll miss Games 4 and 5 of this Western Conference playoff series, which the Ducks lead 2-1.
Game 4 is Monday night.
Abdelkader appeared to catch Lydman square in the side of the head with his left shoulder, and he was given a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct with 4:49 remaining in the second period of Game 3.
Anaheim’s Nick Bonino scored 18 seconds later to break a scoreless tie. Detroit killed off the rest of the penalty, but the Red Wings allowed three more goals in the third period and lost 4-0.
The league released a video of the hit, saying Abdelkader skated “a considerable distance” before making contact with Lydman—and caused an injury.
The 26-year-old Abdelkader played all 48 games during the regular season for Detroit, scoring 10 goals with three assists.
Abdelkader did not talk as part of Detroit’s media availability Sunday, but Babcock said his piece.
“I watched the hit again today. Holy mackerel. I don’t know what you’re going to be suspended for,” Babcock said. “Now if you turn the video around and you pretend like there was contact to the head, maybe you can find something. … I think it was shoulder to shoulder—bent knees going into a guy, exploding through him.”
The league wasn’t buying that explanation, saying Abdelkader elevated and made “significant head contact” with Lydman.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Lydman was still feeling the effects.
“Toni has headaches. He’s got a stiff neck,” Boudreau said. “Bright lights are bugging him. … (Monday) is very questionable for him.”
The Red Wings were 4 of 10 on the power play while splitting the first two games of the series, but they went 0 for 6 in Game 3. Detroit has scored only twice at even strength in the series, and both those goals game in the first period of Game 2.
Abdelkader had one of those two goals, and Detroit went on to win that game 5-4 in overtime. Now the Red Wings will be without him for a crucial Game 4—a loss Monday night would put them on the brink of elimination, with two of the last three games of the series on the road.
“It’s a hard thing to talk about when it’s your own teammate, but certainly Abby has no history of this,” Detroit right wing Daniel Cleary said. “He’s not a guy that targets people, but it was a hard hit.”
Lydman might not play Monday night either. The 35-year-old defenceman has never been much of a scorer, but he was playing regularly for the Ducks until Abdelkader’s hit knocked him out of Game 3.
Now Sheldon Souray, who played in the first two games of this series before sitting out the third, may be back in the lineup for Anaheim.
“Whoever is in at any time, it’s their responsibility to help out the team,” Souray said. “I’ve been around long enough to just be here and do what I have to do to support the guys. It’s a team-first attitude in here.”