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New guy Cole adjusting; Babcock wants to see more

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla. — Erik Cole was hardly in a celebrating mood.

Cole scored his 20th goal this season, his second (with three assists) in eight games with the Red Wings. But it came in a 3-1 loss to the Panthers.

"It's nice to contribute, but when it's a loss, it isn't that great," said Cole, who has scored 20 or more goals six times during his career. "We need to win games. ... We all need to elevate our game and hold each other accountable to what we're trying to do and execute better."

Cole has supplied some scoring, grit and size, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock believes there's more to give — and expects Cole will show it.

"I need Coler to win more battles," Babcock said. "I need him to be physical and win more puck battles, and if he does that, he can help our team.

"He's got the ability to do that, so needs to do that."

Cole primarily has played on a wing with Henrik Zetterberg, although Babcock has shuffled him occasionally on other lines.

The adjustment from Dallas to a new team with six weeks remaining in the regular season has been a work in progress.

"I wasn't sure quite what to expect," Cole said. "It hasn't been bad. I've adjusted well within the group. There's some things ...

"It was a bit of a whirlwind and the whole transition, everything is a little different (on a new team). But I've been adjusting and trying to find where I fit in here."

Ice chips

The Red Wings can look at the standings and believe they're capable of catching the Atlantic Division leaders (Canadiens and Lightning), yet look below them and see the Bruins and Senators and see a playoff spot disappear.

"We're following the standings very closely, at least I do," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Most guys do. It's just the nature of the game. We have to find a way to feel good about ourselves."

... Captain Henrik Zetterberg, on getting forward Darren Helm (oblique) back Thursday: "He has speed, and it was a factor out there a few times. It's nice to see him healthy."

… Center Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) missed his second consecutive game Friday against the Lightning.

… Kronwall, on the Lightning's success: "They have great depth, great goaltending, and some defensemen on the back end that can move the puck and fly. They're just a real good overall team. They play with a lot of pace and speed."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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