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Wings endure hard practice after weak effort in Boston

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — They were expecting to have a lively, spirited practice after Monday's loss and the Red Wings got what they expected.

The word most often used was "intense," with a lot of skating and a few compete drills, all to get across the message that the effort displayed in the last two games, but particularly Monday's 5-2 loss in Boston, wasn't acceptable.

"The message was clear," Kyle Quincey said. "The compete level has to be better."

The Red Wings have an opportunity to demonstrate the message has gotten across tonight when the New Jersey Devils visit for the traditional New Year's Eve game at Joe Louis Arena.

"It happens during the course of a year and you have to just make sure that those (stretches) are short," Henrik Zetterberg said. "We've had a few games here where we haven't been happy with the way we've performed. The good thing is we have a chance to make it better."

Zetterberg was adamant in saying the team understands what needs to be fixed.

"We know we're good when we do the right stuff," Zetterberg said "We just have to go out and execute. When you execute it's a lot easier to be in the right spots and it's easier to work.

"I don't think we've tried to make a big deal out of it. You don't want to overthink and overpanic."

A good start might go a long way to addressing the problems the Red Wings have had.

The Red Wings haven't been pleased with the starts to the last three games, although they won the first two, the second primarily because of Jimmy Howard's goaltending.

But in Boston, a poor start put the Wings into a hole they never fully climbed out of.

"It's not good enough to be unprepared to do your job," coach Mike Babcock said. "The reality is you can't cheat the system."

Babcock singled out himself, the coaching staff, and the leadership group for not doing enough in Boston, and needing to get the Red Wings more prepared than they've been recently.

"No one was happy about how we started the game (in Boston), and in Ottawa," Zetterberg said. "It's tough to win games in this league if you're having those type of starts. We have to be better prepared in here and be ready for games. Not start playing after 20 or 30 minutes.

"We worked ourself into the game the second half of the (game in Boston). We played good. It was just the start that has to be better."

Devilish scheme

New Jersey arrives with a newly-minted three-headed coaching staff, headed by general manager Lou Lamoriello, who is temporarily overseeing co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens.

The unique structure was implemented after Lamiorello fired former Plymouth Whalers coach Pete DeBoer on Friday after the Devils had struggled to 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Babcock feels the Devils have the people in charge to turn things around.

"Lou is looking after the program as he always has," Babcock said. "He's been one of the great general managers for a long, long time. He obviously wasn't happy with how things were going."

To stop the Devils, Babcock thinks it's vital to contain forward Jaromir Jagr, 42, who continues to defy age (21 points, 15 assists).

"Modern day Gordie Howe," Babcock said. "It's the truth. He's still an unbelievable player at the age he's at."

Personnel update

Jakub Kindl (sprained elbow) was placed on the short-term, seven-day injured list and Xavier Ouellet was recalled from Grand Rapids. Babcock said Ouellet, who has one goal and one assist in nine games this season with the Red Wings, with a plus-3 rating, would be dressed against the Devils.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Devils at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 Wednesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings won the previous meeting in a shootout. ... The Devils are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games, forcing the ouster of coach Pete DeBoer.…One bright spot is the power play, which ranks eighth in the league.