Detroit – General manager Ken Holland watched Tuesday’s debacle against the Arizona Coyotes and came away with the same feeling as Red Wings fans.
Holland wasn’t happy about it.
“Certainly it was a disappointing loss,” said Holland of the 4-1 embarrassing defeat to the struggling Arizona Coyotes, one of the weaker teams in the NHL “It wasn’t good enough. We expected a lot better start. We know we have to be better. I expect us to be better (Thursday against Los Angeles).
“It wasn’t good enough.”
The loss to the Coyotes illustrated, in many ways, what has hampered the Red Wings much of the season.
► They haven’t been able to win at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings have lost all three games on this current five-game homestand, and are now 2-8-3 on home ice since opening the season with a four-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena.
“Our home record is nowhere good enough,” Holland said.
► Offense remains an issue.
Wednesday the Red Wings ranked 27th in goals per game (2.23), 26th on the power play (13.9 percent) and 26th in shots per game (28.4).
Key players who were expected to take another jump in their production and development – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan – have stalled.
“We have to find a way to score goals,” Holland said. “We’re not scoring goals the way we expected to be.”
► Coach Jeff Blashill continues to juggle lines to find an offensive spark, key injuries (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Brendan Smith) weaken the lineup, and players appear to be playing tight, playing with declining confidence.
In the rugged Eastern Conference, the Red Wings are closer to last than a playoff berth.
“We know we have to get playing,” Holland said. “With 30 points in 30 games, it’s not where we had hoped or expected to be.
“We know the importance of these next 20 games, or so, in the schedule. You want to play into a position where you’re (in the playoff chase)….These are important games.”
Trades have been few and far between in the NHL this season, as most teams are handcuffed by the salary cap and contracts.
Teams are looking for top prospects or draft picks, in return, something Holland doesn’t want to deal.
Though the trade deadline still two months away, Holland has been in contract with other GM’s.
“You’re always thinking about how to upgrade or change your team for the better,” Holland said. “I’ve had conversations with other managers. A lot of teams are strapped by salary cap. As the weeks get closer to the trade deadline, you’ll see more people working the phones.”
In the Red Wings’ locker room Wednesday, the Red Wings realized the importance of upcoming games and the fact the schedule is already near the mid-season point.
There isn’t room to give away games anymore.
“We know the clock is ticking,” Tatar said. “You can’t let any more games slip away. We know how to play. Our fans deserve better.”
Blashill and his staff tweaked the forward lines at Wednesday’s practice, shuffled players to see if he could squeeze any sort of offensive spark to generate goals.
Blashill took responsibility for his team’s performance to this point.
“Ultimately we are responsible for the performance of this hockey team,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we are as prepared as possible, making sure we provide the right structure so we play on the same page as everybody.
“Through different avenues, we have to try to get the most out of players.”
Kings at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m.
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit, 97.1 The Ticket.
Outlook: The Kings are coming off a 6-3 loss in Buffalo…The loss of G Jonathan Quick (groin) has weakened Los Angeles. Quick is out until March…C Jeff Carter (14 goals) leads offensively…The Red Wings are expecting the return of D Jonathan Ericsson (back spasms).