Detroit — What to do about a suddenly very silent offense?
That's a problem facing the Red Wings these days, as they head into tonight's game against the New York Islanders. The Wings are winless in four games (0-1-3) and have scored only four goals in those four games.
Some Red Wings players feel they've gotten away from going to the net and scoring tough goals, a mind-set that spurred a lot of goal scoring in late November.
"For a while we had the mind-set throw it in, crash the net and be heavy," coach Mike Babcock said. "Now we think we're skilled and we're not scoring goals.
"When you play light in the offensive zone and don't shoot the puck, you spend too much time in your own zone."
The return of Justin Abdelkader to the lineup this week will help the Red Wings be stronger around the net, as will Johan Franzen's return to the lineup against the Islanders.
Abdelkader, in particular, was a player the Red Wings missed, having been gone for seven games with a shoulder injury.
Darren Helm and Tomas Jurco are both developing their games around the net, but they don't have Abdelkader's size and tenacity in the slot.
But regardless who is there, the Red Wings would like to create more opportunities.
"We have to get to the inside more and throw more pucks at the net," Niklas Kronwall said. "We haven't had enough shots on the net and we have to have more traffic."
After Friday's game, the Islanders are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games against the Red Wings, and have won five straight at Joe Louis Arena dating to 2003.
"They're one of those teams that seem to be scoring six goals every night, but at the same time they have some big pieces on the back end," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who had no reason for the Islanders' success against the Red Wings. "They look like a legit team."
The acquisition of defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk right before the season began were huge additions, but the Islanders also added key veterans over the summer that strengthened and deepened the roster.
"They're a talented, talented team," Babcock said. "They really improved their back end, they're better in net (Jaroslav Halak). They've always had good talent up front."
Xavier Ouellet was again in the lineup on defense, with Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl healthy scratches.
A decision on whether to send Ouellet back to the Grand Rapids Griffins could occur this weekend, as Stephen Weiss (shoulder) is eligible today to come off the short-term injured list.
Ouellet has been impressive in eight games this season, with one goal and one assist, while being a plus-3.
…With Franzen returning to the lineup, Daniel Cleary was a healthy scratch.