Brendan Smith on what he has to do to stay in the lineup.
Detroit — Injuries – along with defeats – are beginning to accumulate for the Detroit Red Wings.
Defenseman Alexey Marchenko is the latest casualty. He will be out for approximately two weeks after suffering an upper-body injury Sunday in the 3-2 loss to Calgary.
“He’ll be out at least a week,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s not months, it’ll be weeks.”
Marchenko joins Darren Helm (dislocated upper shoulder, out 5-6 weeks) and forward Andreas Athanasiou (knee, 1-2 weeks) as injured Red Wings.
Marchenko was averaging 18 minutes of ice time, with no goals and five assists, and an even plus-minus rating.
There will not be a need for a roster move, given the Red Wings have seven other healthy defensemen, including Brendan Smith (a healthy scratch the last two games) and Xavier Ouellet (last eight games).
Blashill said Smith will re-enter the lineup Wednesday in Buffalo.
In Blashill’s estimation, Smith wasn’t doing anything to lose his lineup spot – it was simply a matter of someone had to sit when Niklas Kronwall returned to the lineup, and Blashill wanted to keep playing Ryan Sproul.
“He (Smith) didn’t come out because he was playing bad, he came out because Kroner was coming back and I wanted to leave the shot mentality of Sproul on the power play,” Blashill said. “He’s done a good job and he just needs to make sure his consistency is real high and attention to detail every day is high, attention to detail for 60 minutes is high, and he can do real good stuff for us.”
Smith has two goals and two assists in 17 games, with minus-5 rating, while averaging 18:14 of ice time.
Being a healthy scratch was “disappointing,” said Smith.
“I was playing pretty good, there’s some areas where everybody can improve,” Smith said. “For me, it’s just continue to play good hockey and try to minimize mistakes.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill evaluates the play of defenseman Brendan Smith.
More shots needed
The Red Wings have lost their last four games and nine of their last 11 (2-8-1).
There are many reasons for the team’s slump, but one is simply not enough shots on net.
The Red Wings rank 29th – out of 30 teams – in the NHL with 27.8 shots per game (Pittsburgh leads the league at 32.9).
“We have to have a shot mentality,” Blashill said. “We’re passing up shots when we have opportunities to shoot and create chaos off that.
“With that said, we have to do a better job of driving the middle and getting on the net. Those are areas that are easy to help create offense and that’s an area we have to do better job of that.”
Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Mike Green and Frans Nielsen had maintenance days and didn’t skate at practice.
… During this 2-8-1 stretch, the Red Wings have been shut out three times, scored one goal once, and scored two goals two times.
“When you don’t score much you have zero room for error,” Blashill said. “Your room for error is so minuscule, you end up dissecting every piece of your game and if you make one mistake it can be deadly.”