Detroit — Would anyone else care to score? I hear it is lots of fun!
And, it certainly would help.
Right now, the Red Wings are a team in need of considerable assistance in a place they traditionally dominate, Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings thoroughly outshot and outplayed the Jets Tuesday, and lost their sixth consecutive game at home, 3-2, in a shootout.
They have not won at home since October 15.
They have not been winless in six straight at home since 1986-87, when ties were still awarded.
But that is correct. This is the longest string of home games without a win since the end of The Dead Wings era.
After opening 6-2, through eight games, the Red Wings have gone 3-3-5.
And, to think they afflicted the Jets like biblical locusts for most of the evening. Skating hard, making more than a few plays, tilting the ice against the visitors, revving up the crowd, they were everywhere.
But other than Pavel Datsyuk, no one could score.
No depth in scoring
Once again, barely anyone even cracked the scoring sheet, save for Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Daniel Alfredsson, their top four scorers for the season.
In his return to the lineup, Johan Franzen managed his fourth assist of the season.
“Of course, we need the whole team to be scoring on a regular basis to win games,” Franzen said Tuesday, after the morning skate.
“But we keep working hard.”
The Red Wings seem to have put their problem with turnovers behind them. In the last few games, they seem “harder on the puck.” Last night, they gave it away only four times, compared to frequent double-digit generosity, earlier in the season.
They also seem to be getting a grip on yielding far too many shots, holding Winnipeg to just 21.
They even got the power play untracked. After a miserable stretch in which they scored only three power-play goals on 29 opportunities in the previous 10 games, they got two in four chances Tuesday.
But other than Datsyuk and Zetterberg, 15 Red Wings took 36 shots, and none went in.
The Wings are doing a lot right so far this season. A team clearly “in flux,” as Mike Babcock has stated, with their young and developing defense, they manage to wake up this morning three points out of first place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the big, bad Bruins and one point ahead of the dreaded Sidney Crosby’s Penguins.
The scorelessness is taking its toll, in more ways than in losses, and losses at home.
Babcock made Daniel Cleary a healthy scratch Tuesday.
Cleary has a goal and an assist through 18 games.
“My job each and every day is to put the best 20 guys into the lineup that I think can win the game,” Babcock said. “There’s no one who’s a bigger fan of Dan Cleary than Mike Babcock. I imagine he’s very (upset), and I don’t know what you want me to do about it.”
Sounds like a coach who might be considering more changes.
Among them? One has to wonder how long the Red Wings can keep Gustav Nyquist in Grand Rapids, with his seven goals and 10 assists through 12 games in the American Hockey League.
But bringing up Nyquist requires some tough, perhaps permanent decisions on some players, both in terms of roster limitations and the salary cap. They are decisions the Red Wings have postpone, while trying to get other scorers started.
But it would seem the need to pull the trigger on Nyquist only grows, as the low-scoring games and losses at home mount.
Clearly, the Red Wings lack scoring depth. Last week, as Babcock looked at his lineup with Franzen out, he wondered aloud who else could score.
He could name only one player: Alfredsson.
“If you look at the NHL Guide and Record Book, who do you expect to score other than those guys?” he said, of the rest of his lineup.
“Alfie. There, that’s it.”
He might have mentioned Todd Bertuzzi, who has five goals and nine assists in 19 games.
But Babcock’s point was clear: Can anyone else score here?
The Wings decided to give a good chunk of dough to Stephen Weiss, to lure him in free agency, after decided to part with Valtteri Filppula. But Weiss has only two goals and an assist through 17 games, and will not return to the lineup for several more games because of injury.
Weiss clearly needs time to recover his groove, after playing in only 17 games last season due to a wrist injury.
In fact, the entire lineup, save the supremely confident Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Alfredsson and Kronwall, could use some confidence.
If only they could score.