Blashill delivers message to Wings defensemen: Improve

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Calgary, Alberta — All seven Red Wings defensemen were huddled around coach Jeff Blashill shortly before practice Thursday, listening intently.

Blashill appeared to be delivering a message — and it was sinking in.

“I just think as a team we have to be better, and the defense core has to be better, and we wanted to make sure they knew that,” Blashill said.

Blashill also told the players there’s a chance all three pairings will be shuffled.

“That’s up in the air right now,” Blashill said. “We’re certainly thinking about how we can best get guys into the right spots.”

One thing Blashill would like to see more of is the defensemen jumping into the play and being more aggressive offensively.

And the message was heard loud and clear.

“All in all we need to be better,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “If we do, then the opportunities to jump up will be coming on its own.

“I just don’t think we’ve played quick enough on defense where we’ve created those opportunities to jump up in the play.”

‘We are getting better’

Despite their third consecutive loss (3-1 to the Oilers), the Red Wings are satisfied with the process.

The players believed it was the best game of the skid, and if they keep improving, the victories will come.

“We are getting better,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We took another step. The battle level, we won more battles, we spent more time in their zone and not so much in our end.”

Still, there’s room for improvement.

“Execution, and it’s up to us,” Zetterberg said. “Turnovers will happen, but we have to minimize them.”

Ice chips

Zetterberg and Brad Richards were given the day off because of the heavy schedule.

... The Red Wings were hit with their third penalty for too many men on the ice against the Oilers, something Blashill wants to eliminate.

“We just have to execute better; we don’t want to be taking them,” Blashill said.

... Kronwall, on the power play, which went 0-for-6 Wednesday: “We have to find ways to get the pucks to the net. It was too much to the outside, and the breakouts have to come together. We have to keep it more simple.”

... Blashill, on the desperation level against the Flames, who have four consecutive losses: “I hope we’re in the same boat. We’ve lost three in a row. Nobody likes losing. They haven’t, and we don’t. We have two teams who are desperate for a win.”

Red Wings at Flames

Faceoff: 9 p.m. Friday, Scotia Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings have lost three straight, the Flames four. ... The Flames have allowed 25 goals, most in the West. ... The Flames are 0-4 at home.