Red Wings coach previews Thursday night's game and what he expects when his team faces Ottawa. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Detroit — Coach Jeff Blashill was reflecting on the Red Wings’ schedule thus far and the lopsided amount of road games compared to being at home.
Blashill thought about it for a second.
“It keeps my wife happy,” Blashill said of his team being on the road so much. “No, I’m just kidding.
Blashill can debate it some more for the next week. The Red Wings are on the road for a four-game trip beginning Thursday in Ottawa, then work the trip to western Canada, going through Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.
When this trip ends, the Red Wings will have played 12 road games — compared to five at Little Caesars Arena.
The fact they’ve been on the road so much doesn’t bother Blashill.
“When you’re on the road, it’s a bonding time,” Blashill said. “When you’re at home, everybody’s life is so busy you don’t get together at all as a team, very rarely. When you’re on the road, you have to use it as a bonding time. There’s an element to it.
“When I looked at the schedule, I wasn’t disappointed that we spent time on the road early because it’s important.”
So far, the Red Wings have held their own with a 4-4-0 record away from Little Caesars Arena, including a 2-1 shootout win Oct. 7 in Ottawa.
What is intriguing for the Red Wings is, when they get through this road-heavy part of the schedule, it evens out substantially in the next couple of months.
There’s only two road games in the following 15 games, a tremendous opportunity for the Red Wings to solidify themselves in the standings.
“We’ve been on the road a lot but we’ll be obviously getting the perks later when we’re at home for two or three weeks,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s nice to get on the road, get some team bonding, team dinners, and it’s a chance for the guys to come together as a team.
“That’s important for us right now. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
This particular trip twice has two days off after a game, which lengthens the trip and also gives the Red Wings plenty of down time.
“Everyone will be doing something different,” forward Luke Glendening said. “Maybe a little reading, maybe a little television shows. It’s great to be at home but being on the road cuts out distractions for us and I’m excited to get back out there.”
And what’s the key to winning on the road?
“Just getting back to playing simple and getting pucks deep and creating chaos around the net,” Glendening said.
One of the biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Arizona was the fine start the Red Wings had.
Gustav Nyquist and Glendening scored goals within the first three minutes, and the Red Wings had plenty more opportunities in the period but didn’t cash in, which could have made the game a blowout real early.
If they could bottle that kind of start and take it on the road, the Red Wings would be thrilled.
“It’s important to get off to a fast start at home and put pressure on the opposing team,” Abdelkader said. “Get the crowd into it, and we did a good job of getting pucks going straight ahead. We had some opportunistic bounces, but that’s what happens when you put pucks around the net. You just have to continue to funnel more pucks around the net.”
Blashill liked the speed the Red Wings played with.
“We played to our identity, we want to be way faster through the neutral zone, and have an attack mentality,” Blashill said. “We did that, we played very much to the identity of how I want this team to play and it created offense.”
What was supposed to be a normal practice day turned into more of a skill improvement afternoon Wednesday as several Red Wings needed a maintenance day from all the recent travel and games.
“It’s the biggest challenge in the league,” Blashill said. “You don’t get to practice (much), and if you do practice you grind the guys to a halt. It’s a challenge that’s incredible in this league.”
…Ottawa (5-2-5, 15 points) continues to find ways to earn points and is holding its own near the top of the division standings.
“If you play slow it’s going to be a frustrating night,” Blashill said. “If you’re not willing to put pucks behind them, it’s going to be a frustrating night.”
Red Wings at Senators
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Canadian Tire Center, Ottawa
Outlook: Ottawa (5-2-5, 15 points) is coming off an 8-3 loss to Montreal. Right wing Mark Stone (seven goals, 12 points) is off a hot start, and defenseman Erik Karlsson (10 assists in seven games) has been excellent since returning from injury.