Red Wings players review evidence of ugly defeat

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Kanata, Ontario — The video doesn’t lie.

And when reviewing Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Penguins, the Red Wings had an opportunity to see all the ugly details before Friday’s practice at Canadian Tire Center.

The pre-practice meeting extended a bit longer than usual as coach Jeff Blashill wanted to make sure details that needed to be addressed were, while turning the planned practice Friday into an optional one.

Blashill downplayed the longer than usual pre-practice meeting — it was longer by a matter of minutes, nothing too lengthy — as nothing more than a teaching tool.

Too many defensive lapses and playing too loose defensively had come into play, specifically the loss to the Penguins.

“The biggest part of my job is to make sure we keep getting better as a hockey team,” Blashill said. “I don’t think you can meet every single day. We meet lots, and try not to meet too much, but today … there are certain areas in our game we have to be better at.

“We have to be better defensively and we have to make sure we’re learning. One of the best ways to learn is see it on video. The video never lies and we went through some stuff we have to be better at.

“For me, it’s just a process of again, my job is to try to teach and make sure we’re learning and getting better as a hockey team.”

But also, along with the defensive issues, Blashill has been concerned about the energy level — or lack thereof.

“Sometimes mental freshness is real important,” Blashill said. “So that’s why we didn’t practice (fully) today. I just thought you go through long periods of the year and it can be a grind on you mentally. I didn’t love our energy level two days ago in practice and I didn’t love our energy level just last night (in Pittsburgh) in terms of the energy around the room.

“It’s a grind, so giving the guys a chance to refresh and make sure our focus level is extremely high, working hard gets you in the door, but you have to have a high focus of attention to detail and doing it right every single shift in order to have to success and we didn’t do it right enough certainly last night (in Pittsburgh).”

Mrazek starts

Blashill named goaltender Petr Mrazek the starter for Saturday’s game in Ottawa.

It’ll be an opportunity for Mrazek to bounce back after allowing five goals each to Boston and Pittsburgh in his last two starts.

Mrazek was replaced Thursday in the third period by Jimmy Howard as Mrazek has hit his first bump in a successful season.
Blashill expected some sort of slip eventually.

“I don’t think Pete’s played nearly to his high level and that’s the ebb and flow of the year,” Blashill said. “He was 95 percent (save percentage) or something like that through January and that’s not sustainable. I know that’s not sustainable, nobody does that.

“I’d be concerned if I saw real flaws, but I don’t see flaws. He just hasn’t been quite as sharp as he’d been prior, but I expected that at some point.”
Blashill didn’t feel Mrazek’s teammates helped the goaltender much against the Penguins.

“We didn’t help ourselves,” Blashill said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he’d been in the past, but we gave up way too much (defensively) to judge our goalie on.”

Ice chips

Blashill wouldn’t divulge if there would be any lineup changes, saying the coaching staff was still mulling any moves.

… Defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (lower body) and Niklas Kronwall (knee) skated Friday but both are still doubtful to rejoin the lineup this weekend.

… Because of a college basketball game between St. John’s and Seton Hall Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, the Red Wings will not have a morning skate before the Sunday night game against the Rangers.

Red Wings at Senators

Faceoff: 7 p.m., Saturday night, Canadian Tire Center.

TV/radio: FSD; 97.1, 1270

Outlook:   The  Senators (27-26-6, 60 points) have snuck past Montreal and are six points behind Tampa and seven behind the Red Wings…D Erik Karlsson (65 points) is again in the discussion for the Norris Trophy.