Sunrise, Fla. — Rarely have the Red Wings ever needed to be reminded of being disciplined on the ice. But thus far this season, it’s as if the Wings have become — by comparison to past years — totally unruly.
Defeats this week in Buffalo and Tampa Bay were perfect examples.
The Red Wings took five penalties and the Sabres only three. Detroit wound up killing four power plays, two just two for Buffalo.
On Thursday in Tampa, the Red Wings were whistled seven times, allowing six power plays — and the Lightning scored twice, on the NHL’s best power play. Tampa was penalized six times, facing five Detroit power plays.
The undisciplined, careless penalties in Tampa particularly irked coach Jeff Blashill. And Blashill hasn’t held back since making sure everyone knows the importance of staying out of the box.
“We self-inflicted (in Tampa) on six penalties that were 100-percent not needed,” Blashill said. “We’ve killed off the most penalties in the league (39-of-47). Frustration is waste of time. You have to find solutions There’s a solution staring us right in the face.
“Be way more disciplined, get back to where were more towards last year when we were in the bottom tier of the league in having to kill penalties. Our penalty kill has been elite (this season) but when you have to kill that many penalties, you’re just asking for trouble.”
Referees have been concentrating on slashing penalties since the exhibition season. Some have been calling it less strict than others lately, and players have complained about the inadequacy.
But, regardless, five slashing penalties in the last two games are a sign the Red Wings have been a bit careless.
“When you slash them near the hands, you give the refs a chance to make the call,” Blashill said, ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Florida Panthers. “Let’s not give them a chance to make a call. Let’s not worry about what their standard is, and make sure it doesn’t happen.”
When Blashill reconfigured his lines Friday, one interesting assignment was putting Martin Frk on the fourth line with Luke Glendening and Scott Wilson. The fourth line is usually the home of a team’s checkers, defensive forwards, and physical players.
Frk, more of an offensive player with a dynamic shot, doesn’t seem like a perfect fit.
Blashill acknowledged Frk might be different, but also pointed to Toronto forward Mitch Marner, a young offensive star, who has been playing the fourth line in recent games, and pained the Red Wings Wednesday with offensive opportunities.
“It’s not a natural fit but I guess my question is, is Mitch Marner a natural fit on Toronto?” Blashill said. “When he (Marner) goes out there, boy, he’s dangerous, so as a player you have to make yourself dangerous when you’re out there.
“That’s what I found when we played against them (the Maple Leafs). It didn’t feel like a fourth line, it felt better than that. Frky’s got to do the same thing. He can make that line dangerous, (but) he’s got to play at a high level.”
The power play problems that plagued the Red Wings all last season haven’t gone away. The Red Wings ranked 21st Saturday morning at 15 percent.
“It’s got to be better,” Blashill said. “Totally self-inflicted, giveaways. What do they call those in tennis, unforced errors? That’s what they felt like (in Tampa).”