Woeful offense puts Wings’ playoff streak in peril

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
Pavel Datsyuk, flanked by Brendan Smith and Anthony Mantha, has 14 goals and 26 assists in 55 games this season.

Sunrise, Fla. — With two games on the road in four days against the Panthers and Lightning, the Red Wings hope their offensive performance against the Blue Jackets on Thursday foreshadows how they will play Saturday and Tuesday.

Their defense has been inconsistent at times, but the offense has been the larger issue this season.

It remains generally weak, to the point the three goals in Columbus felt significant.

When their goaltending was terrific, the Wings were able to ride high in the standings. Since then, they have been increasing jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

They and the Avalanche were the only two teams in playoff position entering games Friday with a negative difference between goals for and goals against. Both were minus-8.

Kronwall might return Saturday; Mrazek still out

The Flyers, a point behind the Wings with two games in hand, are minus-4.

The Penguins, three points ahead with one game in hand, are plus-18.

The Red Wings also rank 23rd in goals per game at 2.49, and their power play is 27th at 16.6.

It has affected their confidence. Trailing in games, as they have been repeatedly for a month, their resilience has been an issue.

Some more scoring — including one or two shooters suddenly, perhaps improbably, getting hot — would considerably improve their chances in the last 11 games.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’ve got guys that can score,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t care what’s happened up to now. What matters is what happens tomorrow night.

“We’ve got to make sure if we go out and get the first one, let’s get the second one. If give the first one up. Let’s make sure we get the next one.”



Red Wings at Panthers

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

TV/radio: FSD+/97.1

Outlook: With their 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Panthers reached the 40-win mark for the fourth time in history. ... The Panthers have defeated the Wings twice — 2-1 on Nov. 29 in Detroit and 6-3 on Feb. 4 in Sunrise. The Wings won the last game, 3-0, on Feb. 8 in Detroit. ... Jaromir Jagr leads the Panthers in points (55) and goals (24) and has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) his last six games.