CHICAGO, IL - MAY 25: Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings Mike Babcock yells out behind the bench as assistant coach Bill Peters stands to the left in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 25, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Red Wings hope to match Blackhawks’ desperation


The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks will need the full seven games to settle their differences. By the end of the night, we’ll find out if the same is true of Chicago and Detroit…

Detroit Red Wings host Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Detroit leads series 3-2

Detroit limited Chicago to just two goals over three games to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination, but Chicago clicked with its season on the line in Game 5. Brent Seabrook bounced back from his recent struggles and logged a team-high 23:20 minutes of ice time, Jonathan Toews finally ended his goal scoring slump, and the Blackhawks’ secondary scorers also stepped up in a 4-1 victory.

“They were more determined and more desperate than us,” 29-year-old defenseman Jonathan Ericsson told the Detroit Free Press, “and that showed.”

“It’s hard to match that when their backs are against the wall and ours aren’t,” Daniel Cleary added. “But that’s something we have to be ready to do Monday, play like our backs are against the wall, which I like to think that they are.”

It shouldn’t be too hard for the Red Wings to convince themselves that this game is critical. After all, if they lose, then the deciding contest will be held at the United Center, where Chicago was 18-3-3 in the regular season and is 5-1 in the playoffs.

That being said, Detroit isn’t expected to make any lineup changes for Game 6. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall appeared to hurt his shoulder during Game 5, but he’s healthy enough to play, based on a Detroit News report.

The big difference will be that Detroit has last change tonight and will therefore have an easier time matching up Henrik Zetterberg with Toews. Zetterberg has been a thorn in the Blackhawks captain’s side for much of the series.

“It’s an ongoing challenge,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville conceded to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Will Toews get on a hot streak after finally scoring a goal in Game 5? Or will Zetterberg neutralize him? The answer might play a big role in determining the outcome of this game and the series.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”