Blashill tries to light fire under listless Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — He’d seen enough. After the Penguins scored their sixth goal Saturday, coach Jeff Blashill called a timeout.

Instead of going over strategy, though, it appeared as if Blashill was giving his Red Wings a stern — and probably well-deserved — talking to. The Red Wings would lose 7-2 in poor fashion.

What was irritating Blashill was that the Red Wings were getting away from playing structured hockey and could have been developing bad habits.

“At that point you can’t try to score and play poor hockey,” said Blashill, who arrived approximately 25-30 minutes later than usual for his postgame media scrum, saying it was time spent talking with his coaching staff. “You have to play good hockey and your habits have to be great all the time, and there’s no way I wanted to allow a game that was in a bad spot to affect us.

“I knew at the time we probably weren’t winning the hockey game, so we better play good hockey so come Monday we’re ready to play good hockey.”

Blashill has talked often the last week about the Red Wings not being resilient enough after the momentum goes the other way.

Saturday, the Penguins scored four times in the second period, then three more after the Red Wings had cut the lead to 4-2 early in the third period.

“Again we let the momentum get away,” Blashill said. “We have to be better than that. When they scored the two quick ones, we have to be better than that and take momentum back.

“We didn’t do a good enough job of that.”

Red Wings players didn’t get into specifics as to what Blashill said on the bench.

But the basic message was consistent.

“We have 12 minutes or so left (in the game), just keep doing the right things out there, pretty much,” Niklas Kronwall said.

Goaltending puzzle

So which goaltender will Blashill go to Monday when the Red Wings host Buffalo?

Good question, especially after neither distinguished himself against the Penguins.

Petr Mrazek was pulled after allowing four goals on 27 shots. Jimmy Howard came in, but didn’t look especially sharp either, allowing three goals on 14 shots.

Blashill said, “Petr has to be better than that,” but at the same time he wants his team to be better defensively in front of whoever is playing net.

“Our team hasn’t been good enough defensively,” Blashill said. “We have to be better for them. I’ve always felt that goaltending follows team defense, so we’ll take responsibility for that.

“We have to be better defensively and then, to a man, we have to execute at a higher level than we did (Saturday). Whether it’s the coaches or players, we have to execute better than we did.

“We have to manage the puck better and keep pucks out of our net with real good goaltending. That’s how we keep pucks out of our net.”

Ice chips

Pavel Datsyuk’s assist on Mike Green’s power-play goal gave Datsyuk 600 assists for his career. Datsyuk joined Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio as only Red Wings with 300 goals and 600 assists.

… Forward Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Alexey Marchenko were healthy scratches. The Penguins were without defensemen Olli Maatta (lower body) and forward Evgeni Malkin (lower body).