His team is now called "the surprising Red Wings" and "the surging Red Wings." Although they beat the Blackhawks 2-0 Thursday to take an improbable 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals, you might have thought they had lost when Mike Babcock walked into the media lounge for the postgame conference.

He was impassive, unaffected, deadpan.

He spent a good part of the time perusing the scoring sheet and seeming unimpressed. But then he was asked if he still felt the Red Wings "have accomplished nothing" so far in the series.

Babcock paused.

"Well, no," he said. "I mean, you've got to win the fourth one.

"I've been in the league a long time. We've had lots of highs and lots of bitter disappointments. Let's just not get ahead of ourselves."

Babcock is process oriented, often to the exclusion of anything else. His players sometimes wonder why he is so rarely satisfied, why even a string of victories may fail to please him.

But his obsession with detail and preparation marks his singularly successful career.

Babcock did not become the only coach to win the World Junior Championship, the World Championship, the Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup by leaving any doubt about his intentions.