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Red Wings Need To Manage Emotions Better in Physical Games



Andrew Copp, Red Wings

The Florida Panthers’ win Saturday at Little Caesars Arena was a case of the best bringing out the worst out in the Detroit Red Wings.

“I think we lost our heads a little bit during some of those scrums,” Detroit forward Andrew Copp said. “So always getting the extra (penalty) pretty much every time and you can’t do that against a team like that and a team that’s going to play it outside the whistles a little bit and try to bait you into those types of things. We got to be prepared for that.”

The Panthers are the NHL’s team today, on the basis of record and playing style. They are 14-2 in their last 16 games because they put stress on opponents from the opening minute until the last minute. They work hard at getting under the skin of their opponent. Matthew Tkachuk is often at the center of it. They have been playing postseason hockey for much of this season, exclusively over the past couple of months.

Red Wings Need to Learn

Copp’s take was the Red Wings need to learn from what the Panthers did to them during the 4-0 shutout.

“Obviously, you got to stick together and stand up for yourselves and all that,” Copp said. “It’s a fine line. With the way the game was being called, we kind of went over the line at times.”

The Red Wings have missed the playoffs for seven years so they are not as knowledgeable about where the line is. The Panthers were in the Stanley Cup Final last season. They know exactly where it is.

“Sometimes it can change on a nightly basis but you got to make sure if you’re going you got to take the other guy with you,” Copp said. “There were a couple times they took both but there were a few times where they just took one. A lot of times it’s the retaliation one. There’s times where you got to eat one just for the sake of not being in the box. I think you saw a couple of retaliatory ones by us that ended up getting called.”

The Panthers seem to be treating every game like a playoff game, meaning they are playing on the outer edge of the rules.

Pick Your Battles

In the playoffs, teams learn to pick their battles and to delay their retribution.

“If you really are (angry) and need to get some skin, get them in Game 2, get them in Game 3, get them in the first period of the next game,” Copp said. “The games, the intensity, it’s too important to let your emotions take over and take a costly penalty. It’s not just on the costly penalties tonight.”

The Panthers employ a power play with a 26.2% effectiveness. Hence, drawing opponents into penalties is a desirable strategy.

“Those are things that have happened in physical games before for us,” Copp said. “It’s about handling your emotions, understanding they’re going to take runs, protect yourself a little bit, get up against the boards, they can’t kill you there. Just understanding the situation and the more games you play in the better you get at it. Those Ottawa games last year were probably the start of ‘Oh, we need to learn to play these types of games.’ I think we’ve gotten better at it. Obviously, (the Florida game) wasn’t our best. But it’s a great lesson. I’d rather learn this lesson now than have to learn in Game 1 and 2 of the playoffs.”

What Copp seems to be saying is that you have to manage your emotions in physical games. You have to defend yourself without crossing into the area of retaliation. The Red Wings have some famous history when it comes to managing your emotions and picking the right time and place for revenge.

Red Wings Must Develop Patience

Legendary Gordie Howe was known to wait weeks, months, even years, to achieve payback for something he didn’t like.  Howe said in several interviews that he liked his opponents worrying about when he was going to come after them rather than the game.

“So there’s positives to be taken, understanding what type of game, understanding the runs, understanding the slashes, understanding the little hacks on the goalie,” Copp said. “You got to stand up for your goalie. There were a couple times they hacked our goalie and we did what we could do given the situation, when it can escalate into one getting a cross-check to the face.”