"I think Mule is a real good person, a real good man, real good family man, tries to be a real good teammate," Babcock said after practice on Friday. "Sometimes [he] doesn't handle probably you people as well as he should to help himself. To me, if you just step right up and just talk, makes it easy. When you don't, things build, I think it puts more pressure on yourself. I don't know why you would do that as a human being."
You don't earn the nickname the Mule by giving in too easily. And it's a reach to suggest that his lack of production is the sole reason the Bruins are up in this series 3-1.
Pavel Datsyuk is playing hurt.
Zetterberg now has played in one game since the Olympics and his conditioning isn't where it needs to be.
Detroit's D-men, often because of turnovers, are getting stuck on their own zone and worn down by the Bruins. That takes a toll.
While Detroit's system play has been spotty and erratic, the Bruins have been relentless in theirs, grinding the Red Wings down with their consistency through four games.
"Look at the way they're playing. They stuck with their game plan," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "That's been the difference so far. They've stuck to their game plan for each and every game."
The Red Wings are playing without starting goalie Jimmy Howard (flu), whom Babcock expects to back up Game 5 starter Jonas Gustavsson on Saturday, and the Red Wings coach admitted to playing veteran Daniel Alfredsson even though Alfredsson couldn't move because of a back issue. Alfredsson practiced Friday, felt good and is available for Saturday. Detroit's two youngest centers, Riley Sheahan (38.8 percent) and Luke Glendening (30.8 percent), are consistently losing in the faceoff circle.
And Boston is just the better, more experienced team, from top to bottom.
So, yeah, pinning this on Franzen isn't fair or accurate. And yet, the games have been just close enough that if he found a way to get going and scoring in bunches like he has during postseasons in the past, there might be a glimmer of hope for Detroit fans. Considering everything else going on in this series, it might be the Red Wings' only hope.
"He's got to get himself going. ... Obviously, we talk to him, try to put him in the best situation to be successful," Babcock said. "We need more out of Mule. It's simple."