Boston – The NHL began a three-day holiday break Sunday and it’s likely that no team needed it more than the Detroit Red Wings.
Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Boston was the exclamation point on a stretch of hockey that may have already sunk this season. The Wings have just three wins in their last 15 games.
“It’s Christmas, we have a three-day break, it could be good for us to get away, get time with family, regroup, come back and after Christmas. … We have to close out these games,” said forward Dylan Larkin, alluding to one of flaws surrounding the Red Wings lately.
The Red Wings have been in close games recently, close games in the third period where the outcome could have gone either way – and they haven’t gone the Red Wings’ way.
Saturday’s game in Boston was tied 1-1 in the third period, and the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron scored twice to salt away the win.
On Wednesday in Philadelphia it was 3-3 in the third period, and the Flyers broke the tie and went on to win.
“We’re in a lot of games,” Larkin said. “We’re right there, but what we are doing isn’t enough.
“It starts with yourself. You have to do your job and be able to finish games and stay with it for a full 60 minutes.”
Jeff Blashill talks about the Red Wings' 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
There was a dark mood in the locker room after Saturday’s defeat, as the Red Wings fell 10 points behind Boston for the third and final automatic playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings have 33 points and trail both Montreal (36, fourth place) and Florida (35, fifth) in the division.
“You look at the standings and it’s black and white, it’s right there,” Larkin said. “The good news is there’s still time. But we have to start putting some games together. We have to get hot and stay hot.”
As for the wild card, the Red Wings trail the second wild-card spot (New York Islanders) by nine points.
The road to the playoffs, either way, will be difficult.
But despite the obstacles, coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t want the frustration to seep into the locker room.
“When you end games like this, you’re frustrated,” Blashill said. “(But) all the frustration can do for us is burn inside your gut even more, so you’re even more determined.
“You can’t let it cloud your judgment. You just have to find a way to come back against (New) Jersey (Wednesday) and play just a little bit better.”
Said goalie Jimmy Howard: “You can’t let it frustrate you; you have to keep playing well. We have to keep playing well. As a team, we have been playing well of late. We’re just not getting results.
“Just take it one game at a time and just build on it.”