Red Wings coach on team's lack of goal-scoring. Ted Kulfan
Tampa, Fla. — The problem plagued the Red Wings most of last season and has re-emerged during the last week.
Finding a way to score a goal, establishing any sort of offense, has been a problem.
Heading into Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay, the Red Wings hadn’t won in five games (0-4-1). During that span they scored a total of nine goals, just under a two per game average, which isn’t going to win many games in the NHL.
Over the last two games, a 4-1 loss and a 1-0 defeat in Buffalo, the offense disappeared on many different levels.
And heading into Thursday’s game, the Red Wings hadn’t scored a goal in 101 minutes, 32 seconds — a little over five periods of hockey, since Anthony Mantha scored at 18:28 of the first period in the loss to Vancouver.
“You want to see a little more offense than we created,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, after the loss to the Sabres.
Dig deeper into the stats, and the offensive misery really begins to look like last season.
The power play — such a source of misery and exasperation last season — ranked 25th in the NHL Thursday (14.3 percent) out of 31 teams.
Averaging 2.6 goals per game, the Red Wings ranked 23rd in that department.
They largely hadn’t gotten off to quick starts either, only scoring three first period goals all season.
“What’s actually crazy about it is I actually think we’ve had some pretty good starts and just haven’t scored,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We started good, even against Vancouver, we had a bad game (overall) but we had four real good chances in the first (period).
“Toronto, we actually started real well and then gave up goals.”
The lack of offense in the opening 20 minutes, said Blashill, is a mystery.
“I don’t have an answer for that, why it’s only been three,” Blashill said. “If we played real bad in each of those first periods, then you’d really look and say ‘OK, what do we need to change?’ But from a process standpoint, we haven’t played bad.
“If we keep playing good first periods, eventually you’ll score.”
One thing for sure in today’s NHL, no one wants to play from behind.
“You don’t want to chase the game in this league,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure our urgency is high and convert some of those (opportunities) into goals. We’re going to help ourselves if we score first, no question about it.”
Blashill and several players agreed scoring a greasy, dirty goal around the net could kick-start the offense.
The Red Wings haven’t done a good enough job getting to the opposing goalie during this recent slide.
“We need to get more bodies to the net for sure,” forward Tomas Tatar said. “The forward who has the puck shoots, and we need some traffic in front of the net and make it hard on their goalie.”
Tatar has three goals in 10 games — the goals came in two games total — and is one of several players still trying to find their stride offensively.
The addition of Andreas Athanasiou, who finally reached a contract agreement last week and was expected to be in the lineup Thursday, should help ignite the offense.
Athanasiou scored 18 goals last season and his speed and shot will be welcome additions.
“We all know what type of player AA is,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “He uses his speed, he’s got a great skill set, he’ll help the lineup a lot.”