Coach Jeff Blashill says the Red Wings need more offensive zone time. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Detroit – What better way to end a two-game losing streak for the Detroit Red Wings than going to Philadelphia, right?
The Red Wings haven’t defeated the Flyers in Philadelphia in the regular season in nearly 20 years, losing 11 consecutive games (0-11-0).
Their last regular-season win in Philadelphia was Jan. 25, 1997, defeating the Flyers 4-1 with Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Tomas Holmstrom and Kris Draper scoring goals, and Mike Vernon stopping 17 shots.
The Red Wings defeated Philadelphia twice, in Games 1 and 2, later that spring in the Stanley Cup Finals, helping the Red Wings gain a sweep in the series.
But since then, it’s been a lot of losses.
“Just like the Cubbies not winning it (World Series) for so long, it’s just the way it has been,” Brendan Smith said. “We don’t think about it. We just go in there and try to play our game and hopefully we come out of there with two points.”
Now, granted, the length of the streak is a bit misleading.
When the Red Wings were in the Western Conference, they rarely played the Flyers in the strange NHL scheduling matrix, including not visiting Philadelphia at all seven seasons between 1997 and 2012-13, when the Red Wings switched over to the Eastern Conference.
Last season the Wings lost 4-3 in their only trip to Philadelphia and split two home games in Detroit.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg on the Red Wings' losing streak in Philadelphia. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
“A few times we had a chance but we just screwed it up at the end with a few mistakes,” said Tomas Tatar of recent games in Philadelphia. “I don’t know what it is. I feel like the building (Wells Fargo Center) is the same as any other, but we’re just getting bad bounces at the end of the game.
“If we focus on our game, we’ll do good things and good things will happen and we can win there for sure.”
The Flyers (4-5-1) have been inconsistent this season, prone to defensive mistakes. With another game in Philadelphia next Tuesday, the Red Wings get two quick chances to end the strange, lengthy streak.
“We know we haven’t won there in a while, but the good thing is we have a chance here and another chance next week,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “But we can’t focus on that, we have to focus on what we do. We haven’t been at our best the last two games and we want to get back to that.”
Frk is back
The Red Wings claimed forward Martin Frk off waivers from Carolina.
Frk, 23, who was lost on waivers to the Hurricanes before the regular season began, was immediately assigned to the minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.
“It’s good to keep good players in the organization,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He works extremely hard, so he’s going to go down to Grand Rapids and he’s going to work hard.
“He’s scored at that level. He got an opportunity with another team and it didn’t pan out. It’s good to have him back.”
Frk, a second-round pick of the Wings in 2012, played in two games with Carolina (six healthy scratches) with no points, a minus-3 rating and averaging just over eight minutes of playing time.
Frk scored 27 goals (44 points) in Grand Rapids last season.
“He’s not going to just jump into a top-six (forward) role, so he’s going to have to make sure, like he did in Carolina, that when he gets those chances in bottom-six roles, that he does a good job,” Blashill said. “Ultimately he has to be a top-six guy (in the NHL). He plays under control more than when he first got to us. He’s learned to slow himself down at the right times, which puts him in better position to get pucks, play defensively, which puts him in better position to support people at right times.”
Blashill said he’ll decide on any lineup changes after Tuesday’s morning skate.
… Zetterberg says winning puck battles has to be Job 1 for the Wings against the Flyers.
“What we really want to focus on is when we have the puck,” he said. “Who has the puck after you have it? Their team or our team? Winning a little more of the battles at the start of the games and we’ll be fine.”
Red Wings at Flyers
Faceoff: Wednesday, 8 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
TV / radio: NBC Sports Network / 97.1 FM
Notable: The Flyers have allowed more goals (38) than any team in the NHL. … The penalty kill has been weak (24th, 75.8 percent), although the power play has been good (third, 27.5 percent). … C Claude Giroux (10 assists) and RW Wayne Simmonds (6 goals) have led offensively.