Anemic offense dampens Red Wings' spirits
Detroit — Here it is close to Christmas and not many in the Red Wings locker room are in a merry mood.
One look at the standings, and it’s understandable.
Rarely have the Red Wings ever gone through anything like this, as the schedule continues to speed along and the Red Wings are out of the playoff picture — and closer to last place in the Eastern Conference.
For the veterans who’ve been with the organization through at least a portion of the 25-year consecutive playoff streak, this is somewhat foreign territory.
It’s not often the Red Wings are desperation mode simply to make the playoffs.
Although the last three seasons have been nerve-racking, with the Red Wings not making the playoffs until the final weekend.
“It’s been a little bit (like this) the last couple of years,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg after Friday’s practice. “We didn’t play the way (we wanted), and we didn’t get the results we wanted.
“But if you’ve been in this league for a while, you know you’ll have stretches like this. If it’s individually, or team-wise, but mostly individually, you go through stretches when you don’t produce like you want to. Then, all of a sudden, it comes back.”
The Red Wings have to collectively find a way to make it come back.
“You have to find different ways to get there,” Zetterberg said. “Now we have to find that way as a team to get back to feeling good about ourselves, and go out and play good as a team.”
The Red Wings appeared to be gaining momentum after winning two of three games on a road trip, defeating the New York Islanders and Winnipeg (in overtime and a shootout, respectively), and heading to Joe Louis Arena for a five-game home stand.
Instead, everything has gone wrong.
The Red Wings have lost the first four games (0-3-1) to continue a long stretch of poor play at home (2-9-3) and negativity is rising.
Fans are booing, those on social media are calling for the firings of general manager Ken Holland and coach Jeff Blashill or significant trades, and on the ice, the offense has been anemic.
Players are attempting to not pay attention.
“Just don’t look at the past, look to the future,” goaltender Petr Mrazek said. “The next opportunity is (Saturday against Anaheim). If we’re playing smart and hard, I’m sure we’ll get two points.”
The losing has been discouraging but players reminded themselves it was a new day Friday.
“It’s real important, after the game yesterday (Thursday, 4-1 loss to Los Angeles), we were disappointed that we didn’t get the result we wanted,” Zetterberg said. “But coming in today, everyone is just trying to have a smile on their face, just erase what happened and try to have a good practice and score some goals in practice.
“Be positive out there. It’s easy now to start pointing fingers and feeling sorry for yourself. But we all know we are good hockey players in here and we know we can play good when we do it the right way.
“We just have to get back to that.”
Whether this is a good time to escape Joe Louis Arena, and away from the negativity, is an open question.
But the Red Wings will certainly be doing so after Saturday’s game, with 10 of their next 11 games on the road.
They will have reached the halfway point in the regular season schedule by then. Calling it a crucial point of the schedule would be accurate.
“To a man we have to get it done, that’s the bottom line,” defenseman Mike Green said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a lack of confidence. It’s just finding that relentlessness and will to get done.”
The Red Wings ranked 29th —next to last — in three important offensive categories:
Goals for per game: 29th, 2.19 goals
Power play: 29th, 13.3 percent
Shots per game: 29th, 28.1