Detroit – The Detroit Red Wings believe they’re doing the right things, but they also have to face facts.
They’ve lost three consecutive games, and eight of their last 10 games (2-7-1), and they’re just three points better than the last-place Buffalo Sabres in the Atlantic Division.
There are a lot of things the Red Wings must guard against with the losses mounting. Frustration is just one.
“It’s only human to get a little frustrated,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg in a subdued locker room after the 1-0 loss in Washington on Friday night. “It’s easy to get frustrated when you’re doing good things and you correct mistakes and you play better but you don’t get any points.
“We have to see the positives and stay with it and eventually get our wins.”
Scoring remains an issue. The Red Wings have been shut out in two of their last three games, and entering Saturday’s NHL games, they ranked 24th in the league at 2.33 goals per game.
“Part of it is confidence,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When you’re scoring you feel good about yourself and playing with a ton of confidence and moxie. When you’re not scoring, it works the other way.
“That’s the reality of life. We have to find a way to get ferocious and get to the net and score dirty goals, score the ugly, greasy goals, and we have to be better in those areas especially.”
Blashill thinks some players are pressing.
“It’s human nature to press a little bit, but we have to fight through that, we can’t allow that to keep in our minds,” Blashill said. “It doesn’t do you any good. It only hurts you. Let’s make sure we stay focused on narrow focus on Sunday (against Calgary) and get better.”
Nobody is saying this is a critical juncture, just yet. But the quarter pole of the regular-season schedule arrives this coming week and the Red Wings are currently looking up at six teams in the Atlantic Division.
A sense of urgency?
“There has to be,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We have to string some wins together.”
One potentially huge piece of the offensive puzzle returns Sunday, as Thomas Vanek re-enters the lineup. Vanek missed the last 11 games with a hip injury.
Slightly shocking is the fact Vanek has missed all those games, but his eight points (four goals, four assists) only trail team leaders Gustav Nyquist, Mike Green and Zetterberg (all with 11 points) by three points.
“Vanny was real good for good us all the way until he got injured,” Zetterberg said. “It’s going to be nice to have him back here.”
But Blashill cautions against his team expecting one player to make everything right again.
“We have to get collectively better,” Blashill said.
Defenseman Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch Friday, Blashill deciding to keep Ryan Sproul in the lineup after Sproul ignited the power play in the loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Blashill will decide on Sunday’s lineup after the morning skate.
Flames at Red Wings
Faceoff: Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Joe Louis Arena, Detroit
TV / radio: Fox Sports Detroit / 97.1 FM
Outlook: Calgary (7-11-1, 15 points) has struggled over the last 10 games (3-7-0) and fallen to next to last in the Pacific Division. The loss of LW Johnny Gaudreau (hand) will hurt offensively. G Brian Elliott (3.36 GAA, .882 SVS) has been a disappointment.