Plenty of blame to go around for feeble Wings offense

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Mike Green dives to try to stop Frank Vatrano during the Red Wings' loss to the Bruins Saturday night.

Opposing goalies are loving the Red Wings these days.

The Red Wings aren't getting inside, aren't playing with the grit that's required to get to the net and make things happen offensively.

Saturday was the latest example, losing 3-1 to the Boston Bruins in a game the Red Wings could barely test the Bruins' physical defense.

"Those battles in front of the net are important -- in front of both nets," said forward Justin Abdelkader, who scored the lone Red Wings goal, his first after a 14-game goal-scoring drought. "You've got to try to get in front of the goalie, or get a stick on a puck, getting those second and third chances.

"It's not just those but it's trying to get in front of the goalie, screen the goalie, because they're not just going to let you go to the front of the net. It's those one-on-one battles and you've got to dig down and win them."

Said captain Henrik Zetterberg: "You've got to bear down even more, get on the other side, get more pucks at the net. Do all the little things right."

Offense wasn't expected to be an issue for the Red Wings this season, but they have struggled mightily since an impressive opening weekend.

The Red Wings have scored two or fewer goals in 11 of the last 13 games, and only nine total over the last six games.

Abdelkader ends goal-scoring drought

Some players who were counted on to produce offense have failed to this point.

Riley Sheahan has four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games. Darren Helm has one point, an assist, in 13 games. Drew Miller, Luke Glendening, Joakim Andersson and Landon Ferraro – Red Wings who've played on the fourth line – are all looking for their first goal.

Because of such lengthy droughts, coach Jeff Blashill thinks some players could be pressing to get that first goal.

"There's a lot of guys that haven't produced a whole bunch and so you have a tendency to squeeze the stick," Blashill said. "I don't really accept that as an excuse. We've got too many good players not to score, so some of it's just digging deeper and finding a way to get it done."

Blashill wants to see the Red Wings pepper the net with shots, in order to create second and third chances.

"Most goalies in the National Hockey League aren't giving up one on the first one so you've got to be able to get to those seconds, but you can't do that if you don't hit the net," Blashill said. "We've got to be more shot-ready, especially from our defenseman."

Red Wings players are confident this offensive drought won't last much longer.

"It's still early, so we have a lot of time," Sheahan said. "We've got a good team and we're confident with what is in the locker room. Obviously we need to be better and need to play together as a team, but it's still early and there's a lot of time to be successful."