Wings need to put teeth in power play
Montreal — An effective power play can build or create momentum and go a long way toward a hockey team earning a victory.
An ineffective power play pretty much does for a hockey team what it did for the Red Wings over the weekend.
During consecutive losses to Carolina and Montreal, the Red Wings went 0-for-5 on the weekend and that contributed greatly to the pair of losses.
There were no goals nor momentum generated from a power play that is finding itself in the opening weeks of the regular season.
“The power play hasn’t been good the last couple of games,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who felt the unit was one of the prime reasons for the loss in Montreal. “We have to fix that before we go (on this week’s three-game western Canada road trip).”
The Red Wings ranked 21st Sunday in the NHL on the power play, 2-for-13 (15.4 percent).
Zetterberg was as mystified as anyone as to why the power play was so cold.
“It’s hard to say,” Zetterberg said. “We’re trying to do the stuff we’re talking about but we’re not getting the production. We have to get back to the drawing board and see what we can do better.”
Coach Jeff Blashill felt the Red Wings had some opportunities on the power play in the 4-1 loss to Montreal but didn’t capitalize, nor did the Red Wings sustain pressure.
“We actually had some chances, I want to make that clear,” Blashill said. “My only issue was there was too much one (shot) and done. Our chances were a little more on the rush. We have to make sure to find a way to spend time in the zone.
“In a game like this, it’s a results-oriented league and you have to make sure you’re on the positive side of the specialty team battle.”
The Red Wings’ penalty kill had been outstanding before allowing two Montreal power play goals Saturday — something the Red Wings couldn’t match.
“The penalty kill has been real good for us, the first three games (all victories) they basically kept us in the games,” Zetterberg said. “(Saturday), eventually pucks will go in playing against good players. Our power play has to be better than this.”
Another area that’s been problematic, not just over the weekend but during the opening five-game segment, is the Red Wings’ lack of shots.
The Red Wings ranked last among the 30 teams averaging only 21.4 shots per game. They were outshot 36-20 by Carolina and 41-22 against Montreal in the two losses.
“It concerns me,” Blashill said. “We have to do a better job of generating more shots and not giving up as many. We’re spending too much time in their zone.”
The Red Wings allowed five Montreal power plays Saturday, which contributed slightly to the one-sided shot total.
“It felt like we were in the box a lot and it takes away from the flow of the game,” said Danny DeKeyser, who returned to the lineup Saturday. “You’re in your own zone defending for two minutes and when it’s time to play offense you don’t have quite as much energy.”
The line of Zetterberg (two goals, seven assists), Dylan Larkin (two goals, four assists) and Justin Abdelkader (four goals, one assist) has accumulated 20 points and carried the Red Wings offensively.
They could use some help.
Teemu Pulkkinen has contributed three goals and Gustav Nyquist two, but there’s one goal (Riley Sheahan) from the rest of the forwards and the defense has contributed only an empty-net goal from Kyle Quincey.
Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar, who appeared to have instant chemistry in training camp, have two assists each but are looking for their first goals.
There’s more to give from a lot of players this early in the season.
“I would say I agree with that,” Blashill said. “A strength of this team can be the depth of our team. ... We have guys who have a lot more in their game.
“It’s not like they’re not playing well, but from a production standpoint we have more to give from a lot of different guys.”