Lots of room for Wings to improve in Game 2

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Brandon, Fla. — They were the better team on the scoreboard, but even the Red Wings realize on style points alone they were the second-best team on the ice in Game 1.

The Red Wings took an early lead in the series with a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay.

Goaltender Petr Mrazek was outstanding with 44 saves, Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals and Luke Glendening had a big shorthanded goal, and the Red Wings killed all seven Tampa Bay power plays.

And that's about it for the positives.

There's a lot of room for improvement for the Red Wings heading into Game 2.

"We didn't play very good," Niklas Kronwall said. "There are areas we have to improve. They were the better team.

"They did a lot of good things. For us, it's a matter of executing better in our zone, make sure the pucks go out, and really just playing the game.

"We were watching way too much."

Tampa Bay outshot the Red Wings 46-14 and used a good start to consistently pressure.

Allowing the Lightning seven power plays, thanks to an endless stream of Red Wings penalties, didn't help either.

"We didn't play near as well as we could have," coach Mike Babcock said. "We have to go get their goaltender and put pressure on their defense and we didn't do that.

"Our lack of execution early let them get on top of us. We spent too much time in our zone."

Babcock wants to see the Red Wings control the Lightning's speed better.

"They were quicker than us (in Game 1) and they got on top of us, and if you don't execute early and the other team gets going early, it can be like that," Babcock said.

Home ice advantage?

Of the eight first-round series, the Red Wings were one of five teams that earned Game 1 road victories.

So is home ice really that big of an advantage, or factor, in these playoff series?

With the current parity in the NHL and the cookie cutter arenas around the league, home ice advantage isn't what it used to be.

"I like playing at home (but) I like playing on the road the first series just because everybody is nervous," said Babcock, adding many teams, if given the choice, might choose to start on the road just to get away from the pressure at home. "The bottom line is we play Tampa (Saturday) in their building and we have to play well and better than we did last game if we want to have success."

There is a simplicity to any playoff series that Babcock said players and fans have to remember first and foremost.

"It's a race to four (victories)," Babcock said. "You have to get to the four and there's a new opportunity (Saturday)."

Ice chips

Babcock said there would be no change to the lineup. Justin Abdelkader (hand) will miss his second consecutive game in this series.

Jonathan Ericsson didn't skate, riding a stationary bike on the side during the practice. But Ericsson is expected to play.

Erik Cole (spinal contusion) and Johan Franzen (concussion) both lightly took part in Friday's practice.

Cole has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, and Franzen is doubtful to return — although he's hopeful if there's a long Red Wings playoff run.

Franzen has only recently begun to increase his participation and been around the team increasingly lately.

"That's awesome for him," Kronwall said. "Just to be around the team and skating and having fun. He's around the group, and that's awesome."