Red Wings hit their bye week, for better or worse

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Whether they like it or not, whether it comes at a good time or it’s unfortunate timing, the Red Wings are on their bye week.

Actually, it’s five days off, absolutely no practices or games, a new metric this season to help offset for a condensed regular-season schedule because of the World Cup of Hockey.

But teams have struggled coming out of the bye week — through Sunday they were 4-12-4 coming off the bye.

The Red Wings played Tuesday, a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders, and don’t play again until Feb. 28 in Vancouver (they’ll practice Monday in Detroit).

Thomas Vanek sees positives regarding the break for the top teams in the league, but not so much for teams scraping to make the playoffs.

“I like the idea if you’re one of the top two teams in the standings and you get the rest,” Vanek said. “If you lose a couple after, it’s not going to hurt those teams.

Wings’ Coreau heads to GR; Howard still on mend

“But for teams especially in the East, where there are six or seven, or eight, teams fighting for playoff spots, the break doesn’t come at a great time.

“It’s hard for the teams. For teams like us, that have to win in the short term, it’s going to be hard. Guys have to be professional and take care of themselves.

“The break is good in the long run. But for teams like us, that need to win, it’s maybe the not the best. But every team goes through it, and so we will.”

As much as the time off is nice, it’s easy for teams to lose their edge, and it’s not easy to recapture that physical and mental state needed to play sharp hockey.

“You come off the break, and other teams are still in training, and it’s hard to get back in it,” forward Tomas Tatar said. “Everybody has to stay ready during the break and focus and do something extra, something to keep your pace and that’s what we have to do.”

What makes coming off the bye for the Red Wings even a bit more challenging is the fact they will be traveling to the West Coast, and battle with the time change on top of everything else.

“It’s going to be a tough stretch for us,” Tatar said. “But we have to be ready.”

The bye week, coach Jeff Blashill said, will give him and his staff time to see how they can take advantage of it for players.

But how to overcome that first game struggle that most teams have had?

“We’ll try to research it a little bit,” Blashill said. “I haven’t really thought about it until now. I don’t think there’s s magic plan. We’ll have to figure out the right approach with the right type of practice.

“What will our pregame skate be? You can’t make up for five days with a pregame skate and one practice, so we have to be careful there.

“We’ll have to have a lot of energy in Vancouver. We’ll have to make sure we’re ready to win a hockey game.”