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Coach Babcock: 'We'll be ready tonight'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the Detroit Red Wings bring the type of energy Tuesday that Mike Babcock provided after the morning skate, the defending Western Conference champions should be in pretty good shape.

 

Detroit will skate with its season on the line as it battles the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 7 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at Jobing.com Arena (9 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS). The Red Wings failed to eliminate the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon when they dropped a 5-2 decision at Joe Louis Arena.

 

"We'll be ready tonight," Babcock said. "Don't spend the whole day riding yourself into the ground. We've been through it. Just in the last two years … we beat Anaheim last year, we lost to Pittsburgh. For myself in the Olympics, we played seven games and won a Game 7. They're all the same. They're a thrill to be involved with.

 

"Would you like to win the series in four? Absolutely. But there's something about a Game 7 that there's a memory there for you. It's about finding a way. You want to be a coach or a manager or a player or a goaltender that gets it done. That's what you dream about when you're a little kid. It gives you something to think about this afternoon while you get a little rest."

 

"Would you like to win the series in four? Absolutely. But there's something about a Game 7 that there's a memory there for you. It's about finding a way. You want to be a coach or a manager or a player or a goaltender that gets it done. That's what you dream about when you're a little kid."

-- Detroit coach Mike Babcock

Luckily for Babcock, playing in a Game 7 is nothing new to the majority of his roster. The biggest obstacle will be between the pipes, as this will be a new experience for rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard. Babcock, though, isn't concerned.

 

"If you're Jimmy Howard, you've got to be pretty ecstatic," Babcock said. "It's your first year in the NHL, you've won a starting job, you've been nominated for the Calder Trophy and now you get to play in a Game 7. I think it's fantastic."

 

Howard, who seemed calm and confident in the Wings' locker room Tuesday, said he would treat this as he would any other game. Given the experience of his teammates, he's fully prepared to lean on them over the 60 minutes.

 

"This is probably one of the biggest games of my life," Howard said. "I'm just going to go out there and do what I do -- stop pucks. The veteran leadership here is key. They've got this calmness about them and it sort of trickles down through the room. I'm just going to follow their lead."

 

A big performance Tuesday would be another achievement on Howard's already impressive resume. It also would be the type of performance Babcock is expecting.

 

"I use a baseball analogy: the 5 o'clock hero, the 7 o'clock bums," Babcock said. "The guy who can deliver in batting practice but can't when the game's on … that's not what we're looking for here." 

 

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL