Patrick Eaves, right, will make his season debut for the Red Wings on Wednesday against the Canucks. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit -- The Red Wings are going back to the basics and coach Mike Babcock is sharing the blame for the team's recent four-game winless streak, saying the struggles are due to lack of organization.
The Red Wings open up a four-game western Canada trip Wednesday at Vancouver, then play the Flames Friday before moving on to Edmonton Saturday and Winnipeg Monday.
"When I look at our team play, if I came from the outside and watched our team play I'd say they didn't have a coach, and that hurts my feelings," Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. "But, it's the fact and I told the guys that today. We're not organized. We're not efficient.
"Face-off plays -- during a stoppage it's like football. You should be able to execute off a stoppage. You have to know what you're doing. So, we asked again, do we know what we're doing? Yeah, we know what we're doing. Well then, we better darn well do it."
Babcock went on and on about other areas of the game, asking players, "Do you know what you're doing?" The players' reply, "Yes, we do."
Babcock wants the Red Wings to tighten up defensively and take more shots at the offensive end.
"Let's work harder, let's work smarter, let's be more efficient, let's get more prepared and let's pay a price to win," Babcock said. "And, we don't score any goals, at least as far as I have seen. So let's not give up 40 shots, let's give up 20 shots, let's win 2-1.
"You can't continue to give up 40 shots a night and hope you're going to win. I said it earlier when we were winning with (Jonas) Gustavsson in the net there: It was fool's gold, and that's exactly what it is. There's a right way to play and a wrong way to play and we're cheating the system and we're paying for it."
The Red Wings' last win came with Gustavsson in goal Oct. 17 at Colorado, 4-2. They lost to the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime Saturday at JLA.
Franzen out, Eaves in
Johan Franzen will miss Wednesday game against the Canucks due to an undisclosed injury, but should be back against Edmonton.
Patrick Eaves will make his season debut against Vancouver after missing the first dozen games due to knee and ankle injuries. Babcock doesn’t expect Darren Helm to make his debut against the Canucks, but he could be on the ice later in the trip.
“Eaves will be playing,” Babcock said. “He’s smart and he shoots the puck. We don’t shoot the puck and I need someone to shoot the puck and I need someone smart.”
Said Eaves: “I’m ready to go. I’m sick of watching hockey. I’m ready to play so hopefully I can jump in and help the team.”
Babcock doesn’t know what his lines will look like, saying he’ll put them together on the flight and Tuesday.
The Red Wings also recalled Luke Glendening from Grand Rapids. Glendening played five games for them before being sent to Grand Rapids last week.
The Red Wings are used to taking western Canada trips to play several games. This season, it will be their only one.
“The travel is just part of the process,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I definitely think it’s a good time to come together, get closer and grow as a team.”
Kronwall, who has been paired with Brendan Smith, knows the Red Wings have a challenge, going up against Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. Henrik has three goals and 16 points, Daniel four goals and 12 points, and Kesler a team-high seven goals.
“They are obviously two of the best players in the league -- so smart out there,” said Kronwall of the Sedins. “You have one under control and the other one is flying around somewhere. We have to do a good job of keeping track of both of them. They’ve given us trouble in the past.
“He’s (Kesler) a really good player and always has been. It seems like right now he has that edge back and he’s playing really well for them.”