Babcock: Game 7 ‘is as much fun as you can have in hockey’


Mike Babcock is jacked up for tonight’s big game.

That’s because his Red Wings will take on the Blackhawks at the United Center in a do-or-die Game 7 — the winner advances to the Western Conference finals, the loser goes home for the year.

While the stakes are high, Babcock says the situation couldn’t be more fun.

“We talk about Game 7 sometimes like it’s something to avoid,” Babcock said in his pregame media availability. “It’s as much fun as you can have in hockey. That’s what it is. It’s about having fun.”

Interesting to hear Babcock describe Game 7 in such fashion.

Yesterday, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter shared almost the polar opposite opinion prior to the Los Angeles-San Jose series decider.

“Game 7s are not that big a deal when you look at it,” he told reporters, as per Mayor’s Manor. “It’s winning the fourth game that’s a lot bigger, and that’s what is way more important.

“Game 7 is, quite honest, for outside the locker room [gestures to media] to make a big deal out of it. It’s not that important.”

Babcock’s message couldn’t be more different — or more consistent.

He’s been raving about the chance to play in Game 7 ever since Detroit lost Game 6 at the Joe, saying he “loves Game 7s” and that, “if I would’ve told Detroit and Michigan we would play in Chicago in Game 7, I think everybody would be excited.”

On Wednesday, he re-iterated his excitement and said his team would be ready to go.

“When you do what you’re supposed to and you’re organized and you trust your teammates and you trust your structure,” Babcock explained, “let’s play!”


Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.