Red Wings shooting for ‘dirty’ goals

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Red Wings aren’t scoring enough goals, and one way to do that is getting those “dirty” goals coaches are so found of.

Either tips, rebounds, screens, a rebound goal, second-chance, any number of type of goals the Red Wings haven’t been able to score much of lately – or, really, much of this season.

“We’ve got to get better on a few things, score some uglier goals,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.

“Pucks are laying there. We’ve just got to win those battles. We were in front of the net but we didn’t win any second battes or second chances.

“It’s been an issue before, I would say, but the last two games it had been better.”

Coach Jeff Blashill has stressed the importance of getting to the net with more frequency lately, particularly during a recent six-game winless streak.

In today’s NHL, scoring dirty goals is a must. Goalies are too good and, simply put, goals overall are difficult to come by.

“We’ve got to quit passing up shots,” Blashill said. “We’ve got to get more net-front presence and make sure we are shooting the puck.

“We had chances early (Thursday in Ottawa) and late but you have to score, you have to find a way. That’s the league, it’s like this every single night. We have to find a way, we’re going to help ourselves by scoring more.”

The Red Wings ranked 25th in the league with a 2.57 goals-against average, an indication any sort of offense would be welcome.

They’ve only scored 12 goals over the last six games – and five of those goals came in Tuesday’s victory over Arizona.

“Any team could score more,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “Any game at any level, youy could look at it and say we wanted to score. We had opportunities but it comes down to buliding, when guys have confidence and shoot the puck with confidence.

“We’re getting opportunities, that’s a good sign. Any team would want to score more.”

The Red Wings visit an Edmonton Oilers team Sunday that was expected to be an offensive powerhouse and win plenty of games – neither of which has happened yet this season.

It would be a good time, as any, for the Red Wings to score a dirty goal, any goal, really.

“We’ve got to keep grinding,” Blashill said. “We’re going to Edmonton and it’s going to be another tight game.”

Mantha moving

In an effort to generate offense Thursday, Blashill moved Anthony Mantha on to Zetterberg’s line to establish a net-front presence.

“They don’t have a natural net presence guy (Zetterberg line) and you’ve got to make sure you are fighting to get to the net,” Blashill said. “I had Mantha (with Zetterberg) a lot in the second and third period. He’s a big body so he’s got to get to the net.”

Mantha cut Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 with a tipped goal on the power play late in the third period.

“There’s definitely more to come,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard on Mantha’s potential. “He works on his game every single day, just like the rest of us. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Ice chips

The Red Wings didn’t practice Friday, using the day more of a travel day flying from Ottawa to Edmonton. They’ll practice today in Edmonton.

… Blashill didn’t name a goaltender for the game against the Oilers but with another game Monday in Vancouver, he’ll play Petr Mrazek in one of those games.

Mrazek hasn’t played since Oct. 20 against Washington.