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Wings eager to head west for hockey, bonding

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
From left, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader,             Henrik Zetterberg and the Wings begin their trip Wednesday in Edmonton.

Taylor – Consecutive losses that dropped the Red Wings' record to 3-2, after a big start, power play sputtering, defensive zone exits glacial at times, and with turnovers up and faceoff percentage down, the Wings are not playing enough with the puck.

Not quite their style of play, at the moment.

And hitting the road, for a stretch? To western Canada, no less?

Well, that is just fine with them.

Long is the tradition in the NHL that a team looking to improve welcomes a road trip, especially early in the year, when a squad with some new members has not yet quite spent a lot of time together.

Plus, the somewhat more cloistered life of the road can increase concentration on the hockey, and what ails their play.

Blashill shuffles forwards to try to ignite offense

At the Taylor Sportsplex, where the Wings worked at length on the power play and penalty kill Tuesday morning, Coach Jeff Blashill and some players talked about their eagerness to hit the road and play better, just before they packed their duffle bags and had them tossed on the truck for the short drive to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

"I think it's a no-brainer; it's a positive anytime you get a chance to spend time as a team," said Blashill, who is launching his first trip to western Canada as coach of the Red Wings.

"We haven't had tons of that, obviously. It's been play, go overnight, and play."

A veteran of long flights and long trips as part of team that played for most of his career in the Western Conference, Henrik Zetterberg is now exposed to what is, this season, the least travel of any NHL franchise.

But the odd schedule also calls for back-to-back games on the first six of seven weekends of the season – seven of eight, counting the last weekend of the preseason.

Regardless, Zetterberg said, some time on the road right now is likely to benefit this team.

"It's a weekend, so we've got to go back-to-back, again," he said, with some sarcasm, and pausing for effect.

"Early in the season, it's nice to go on the road like this. It's good for the team. ... Play some games and go for dinners and just kind of bond as a team.

"We don't play out there that often anymore, so it's fun to go out and play those games."

The Red Wings, having earned six out of a possible 10 points so far, play at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday against the Oilers; 9 p.m. Friday against the Flames; and 10 p.m. Saturday versus the Canucks.