Boston's Brad Marchand beats Pavel Datsyuk to the puck Saturday night. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)
Boston — For the first weekend of the regular season, it was interesting to see the impact of the Red Wings’ 4-1 loss Saturday in Boston.
The Red Wings weren’t happy with the shoddy way they played.
“We’re a way better team than that,” forward Daniel Cleary said.
In a stretch of three games in four nights to open their schedule, the Red Wings won two games so all was not lost.
But they did it with an offensive attack that’s still awakening from its offseason slumber.
Six goals in three games wasn’t much, and an 0-for-8 result on the power play certainly wasn’t the improvement the Red Wings had been expecting in that department.
There’s work to do in a lot of areas. But getting a little harder to play against, particularly against a rugged team like Boston, is a particular need.
“We were on the outside too much,” said coach Mike Babcock, something he’s been disappointed with the opening week “I didn’t think we were good (Saturday), so making an assessment after a game you didn’t play very well in the overall probably’s not a healthy thing to do.
“They were better on the penalty kill and power play than us. They were harder on it, more efficient. They won more battles than we did.”
Said forward Henrik Zetterberg, who scored two goals in the three-game stretch: “They kept us outside and we couldn’t find a way to get in for rebounds and second chances.”
For all of the Red Wings’ skill, there’s always been an element of doing all the tough work around the net necessary to score tough goals and win games.
Being harder and tougher on the puck is definitely on the to-do list.
“We’re normally a pretty hard team on the inside, always driving the net and hanging on to pucks,” Cleary said. “We have to get back to establishing that. We all know our identy in terms of what we bring to the team and what our role is. Sometimes you have to take a step back and realize it and just keep the game as simple as you can.”
As far as the power play, Babcock has shifted personnel and felt the opportunities were definitely there opening night against Buffalo despite not scoring.
But the last two games, the power play has generated little pressure.
“It didn’t have much,” said Zetterberg. “In the other two games we at least created a lot of chances, but the puck hasn’t gone in. (Saturday) wasn’t good.
“(The) power play, if we get some goals there, it’ll help (the offense). Five-on-five will be tight, we know that. It’s not the first time it’s like that in this league. You have to have good special teams if you want to score goals.”