Detroit — Jeff Blashill is in his third year coaching the Red Wings and without a contract for next season.
More than any Wings coach in 30 years, his charge is to redevelop a winning lineup.
Improvement has been scant.
Winless in four games, the Red Wings have reached a moment of truth less three weeks into the season, after a lousy performance in a 4-1 loss to the Canucks Sunday.
“So, I walked into my coach’s room last night and I sat and discussed with our coaching staff for a long time,” he said Monday after a long team meeting replaced a practice and before the Red Wings flew to Buffalo.
Blashill decided instead of skating them hard, he would talk to them hard.
Along the way, he showed them the game. “Every mistake,” Niklas Kronwall said.
It went on long enough that the announced 12:30 session with the media came about 1 p.m.
“We met for a good amount of time,” Blashill said. “I thought that was better than an hour practice where I would have got my message across, like I did through my meeting without the physical exertion.
“We need the energy tomorrow night.”
A subdued Blashill, speaking quietly, in measured terms, still seemed upset.
His irritation after the loss amounted to the most unbridled wrath he has displayed since the Red Wings named him head coach, replacing Mike Babcock in June 2015.
“Today was a team meeting,” he said. “I talked. I showed lots of video of things that aren’t good enough and the areas where we’ve got to be way better.
“It wasn’t a discussion meeting.
"It wasn’t a Kumbaya. It was a ‘This is not good enough.’ ”
As Blashill has said for much of his tenure, to win often this roster and lineup must repeatedly outwork opponents.
And so, the big message of the meeting will sound repetitive to fans.
“We talked at the beginning of the year, as I told you guys last night, that we have to outwork, outplay and out-detail people.”
They didn't outperform the Canucks in any areas. They also failed to pressure their opponents and play fast, he said.
The head coach said he showed them those clips.
Between a bit of an occasional snort, a voice low in tone and volume that never varied, and an expression that conveyed resolve amid considerable frustration, Blashill provided evidence that 15 hours after the embarrassment, the performance still stung far more than the loss.
Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall were at the meeting, of course.
Relied on to imbue in younger players the Red Wings’ attitude and approach, they first became familiar with it on a team coached by Scotty Bowman that included Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios, among others.
Zetterberg and Kronwall were not much pleased, either, the afternoon after a fiasco.
“We see it as one bad game," Zetterberg said. "And it’s up to us to make sure it’s one bad game.”
Kronwall provided some details about the meeting.
“It was embarrassing last night,” he said, admitting his share of responsibility for poor play. “But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. What happened, happened, and we’ve got to learn from it.
“It can never look like that, again.”
Red Wings at Sabres
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, KeyBank Center, Buffalo
TV/radio: NBCSN, 97.1
Outlook: Red Wings have lost four in a row, including one in overtime. Their goal differential is minus-2. The Sabres, 2-5-2, have a minus-11 goal differential.