(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated. With AP Photos.)
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says the challenge of leading a young team has been exciting and invigorating.
When he hears people say the Red Wings aren't consistent, Babcock counters by saying he's never had a group of players prepare better or work harder.
That's how they have to roll in the Motor City these days because nothing comes easy anymore.
The Red Wings would be the sixth-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs if they started Wednesday, but their 22nd straight postseason appearance is far from guaranteed. Detroit plays seven of its last 12 games in the lockout-shortened regular season on the road.
Phoenix, one of five teams within four points of the last playoff spot in the West, hosts the Red Wings on Thursday night.

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Leafs vs. Capitals Game 6 Pick Will the Washington Capitals put the Toronto Maple Leafs away for good when the two meet in Game 6 today at...
Thumbnail Senators vs. Bruins Game 6 Pick Can the Boston Bruins force a Game 7 with the Ottawa Senators when the two meet today for Game 6 at 3PM ET?
Thumbnail Oilers vs. Sharks Game 6 Pick Will the San Jose Sharks force a Game 7 when they meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 10:30PM ET in Game 6?
Thumbnail Canadiens vs. Rangers Game 6 Pick Will the New York Rangers close out their series with the Montreal Canadiens when the two meet in Game 6...
Thumbnail Blues vs. Wild Game 5 Pick Will the Minnesota Wild be able to keep their season alive today at 3PM ET when they host the St. Louis Blues for Game...

NHL Team Pages