Detroit — The word around the dressing room these days is confidence.
The Red Wings lack it. After a long cold stretch from about Halloween to almost Thanksgiving that threatens to diminish their entire season as it reaches the quarter pole, they are still search for the scoring they lacked even last season.
Some players from whom scoring is required to make the playoffs, let alone play out of the first round, seem particularly stymied.
If they score at the pace at which they entered play on Sunday, Gustav Nyquist, Frans Nielsen and Henrik Zetterberg will score about 14 goals each this season.
At his current pace, Tomas Tatar would score nine. Riley Sheahan would have none.
“I think in most of the games, we’re not outplayed by too much,” said Thomas Vanek, who returned to the lineup Sunday. “I think that what it is, right now, too many guys are lacking a little confidence.
“This is a game about confidence. If you feel good about yourself, you’re going to create more and score more goals,” said Vanek, who is in his 12th NHL season.
“And right now, I think, that’s what we have to do is just create a little more. Get some dirty goals and guys will feel better about themselves, and off we go, hopefully.”
As Jeff Blashill looked around the dressing room after the morning skate, he said the roster contains players who can score and win more. It is a matter of providing better performances, Blashill said.
“Inner confidence comes from knowing that you’ve done the preparation it takes to succeed and you have the skill set to succeed,” he said.
“We have a bunch of guys who have the skill set to succeed, and history tells us that. And they’ve got to look and see if they’ve done the preparation, and I believe they have.
“So now you’ve got to fight through frustration. That’s part of life.”
Skid troubles Wings
Gustav Nyquist talked about players thinking too much about not scoring and about “squeezing the stick too tight,” especially now that the Red Wings are continually asked about the losing streak, the 10-game decline and the offensive power outage.
“It’s hard not to think about it, and that’s no secret,” Nyquist said. “And I think that goes for a lot of guys in this room, right now.
“You’ve just got to try to stay positive and work hard, and hopefully you get a goal and get going.”
Someone whose confidence is likely up, and deservedly so, is Ryan Sproul.
After sitting out for seven games from Oct. 30-Nov. 15, Sproul, 23, re-entered the lineup against the Lightning, playing 19:08 on Tuesday.
And he made it stick, with 19:36 against the Capitals on Friday.
That is about a one-third increase in the time on ice Sproul averaged in his previous five games, from Oct. 21-29.
The defenseman had a goal, an assist and five shots on goal in the two games.
“I think, personally, it’s going pretty well for me. I feel really good,” said Sproul, who is valued by the Wings as an offensive defenseman who, at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds, is also big.
“It’s disappointing, the last two games, I think we’ve actually played a really good game and we just haven’t come away with the win,” he said.
... With Niklas Kronwall back into the lineup, Blashill said he intended to scratch Brendan Smith for a second straight game.
Smith had played in all 17 games of the season before that. He is a minus-5.