Newark, N.J. — Asked to evaluate their season Friday after Thanksgiving, the Red Wings say they need to improve.
“Yeah, not where we want to be, for sure,” said Justin Abdelkader, who has three goals and two assists in 18 games in his first season without Pavel Datsyuk. “But, you know we’re on the wrong end of some close games, with some leads that we’ve had that we’ve given up.
“We’re close. We’ve just got to execute a little better and get better, especially at the end of those close games.
“Goal scoring is an issue. But I think we’ve just got to keep forcing the net and putting pucks there, and I think the same thing with our power play, and we’ll start to score some more.”
Henrik Zetterberg said the Wings need to be more assertive with the scoring chances they are creating, and to play well defensively, too.
“We are creating some offense, but we haven’t been able to put the puck away,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve just got to be a little more urgent when we get some chances.”
Play with authority
From the start of the season, Jeff Blashill said a goal was for the team to play with an identity stressing speed and difficulty to play against.
“Well, I don’t think we’ve been to the level that we were at times,” Blashill said, referring to the six-game winning streak, Oct. 17-27.
“Now, I don’t think there’s been huge differences," Blashill said. "I think we’ve done a real good job of not giving up a whole lot, for the most part.
“A little bit more relentless, a little bit faster, a little more competitive. Those are three areas we want to make sure we do a good job at, and we need to get back to doing that.”
Part of it is the continuing search for the right line combinations, he said.
Blashill switched them again, Friday, moving Tomas Tatar to the top line with Zetterberg and Anthony Mantha, and Abdelkader down with Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening.
Devils coach John Hynes, in his second season after coaching the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scanton, was asked before the game to evaluate the Red Wings.
“I know they want to have more of shot mentality on their team and to be more of a competitive team,” Hynes said. “And those are things that we’ve talked about with our team, also.”
“They play a system, and there is a maturity about their game. I think you have to play well to beat them.”
An old friend
The former Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey, now playing for the Devils, said it has been an easy transition.
But playing against one’s former teammates has its downside.
“It’s always difficult to play against guys you’ve been battling with, forever,” said Quincy, who had two stints in Detroit (2005-08 and 2012-16), and also played for the Kings and Avalanche.
“The other side of it is it’s just good to see the guys again. I haven’t seen them since Danny’s (DeKeyser) wedding.”
Canadiens at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7, Saturday, Joe Louis Arena.
TV/radio: FSD, SC (Canada), 97.1FM
Notes: In a desperate search for points, the Wings run into the best team in the NHL, on the tail end of back-to-backs and three games in four nights with a little extra travel to be home for Thanksgiving. Petr Mrazek (3.16 goals against average, .901 save percentage) is likely to play his first game since Nov. 15 versus the Lightning, when he allowed four goals on 22 shots. The Canadiens have lost only four games in regulation, but they are even on the road at 3-3-1. Goalie Carey Price has been outstanding.