The Detroit Red Wings head into their season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in the Joe Louis Arena. The Wings have some new faces with defenseman Mike Green on the blue line and forward Brad Richards.They are welcoming their former head coach Mike Babcock back to the Motor City in game one of the brand new season.
There is no question that emotions will be high as Babcock makes his return to coach against the Red Wings. Prior to the beginning of this season, he was a fixture behind Detroit’s bench after the 2004-05 NHL season ending lockout. This type of pressure cooker game could be exactly what Babcock and the Maple Leafs brass need to experience after their 3-1 season opening loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Life is just beginning for head coach Jeff Blashill behind the bench of the Red Wings and night one is against their former bench boss. The playoff streak for Detroit is currently at 24 consecutive appearances, and they will need to get off to a great start to have fans accept the transition from Babcock to Blashill. They have some young blood they are trying to implement onto their roster, and they are also trying to figure out how to keep their superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg healthy over the course of the 82-game season. Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will be battling against each other to be the team’s rock solid goaltender.
Babcock is a very competitive coach, so one would have to think that he would move heaven and earth to defeat his former hockey club. Toronto lost on Wednesday night, but Babcock’s methods appear to already be paying dividends with their improved level of play compared to most of the campaign last year.
Wins will be at a premium for the Maple Leafs this season. Toronto may not come back home with two points, but this shouldn’t be considered an automatic loss against the Red Wings with their new bench boss on familiar grounds.