Blashill backs off panic, Wings aren't in 'awful spot'

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Red Wings losing streak reached six games following Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Canadiens.

Detroit — There will be days like this during the long NHL season — when a team is losing, nothing is going right and the world appears to be caving in.

Friday was one of those days for the Red Wings.

Stuck in a six-game winless streak, and preparing for a rematch Saturday in Montreal, questions about why it’s happening and how do they get out of it were common.

“We can’t look back, we have to look forward,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Sure, you can look back and look at video and do this and that better, but everything begins with doing it right for 60 minutes, shift in and shift out.

“It comes down to every single guy has to be better than we’ve been.”

Thursday’s disheartening 6-3 loss to Montreal began speculation of whether the Red Wings are buying into coach Jeff Blashill’s system, the lack of consistent effort from players — Blashill has criticized it two times during this home stand — and the inability to respond the last two losses after an opponent takes the lead.

The concerns are valid, but Blashill attempted to keep the situation in perspective.

Looking at the NHL statistics in his hand, Blashill noted the Red Wings were two points behind Montreal for an automatic playoff spot in the Atlantic Division — and four points off a wild-card spot.


“This is where we stand today,” Blashill said. “I try to live in reality as much as possible and this is reality — it’s not optimism or negativism. That’s reality.

“As a whole, we’ve played beyond external expectations for the majority of parts of this season. We sit today in not a great spot. There’s a couple games in hand (for) Boston, we have one game in hand on Montreal, but it’s not an awful spot.”

Blashill wasn’t thrilled with the commitment level to win for Thursday’s game, but doesn’t think that’s been an ongoing problem.

“I don’t think we’ve had lots of nights where we’ve had passengers,” Blashill said. “We’ve had a lot of nights where we’ve been real good.”

Blashill, though, does want to see more fight after an opponent has delivered a punch, such as Los Angeles and Montreal did with second-period offensive flurries, instead of a feeble comeback.

More: GM Ken Holland: Red Wings need to ‘play better’

“I said to the guys today, it’s hard to win a fight if you can’t take a punch,” Blashill said. “We have to take a punch. In the last two games we didn’t take those punches well enough.

“Not that long ago, against New Jersey, we came back and had a real good push (before losing in overtime). Life isn’t about getting knocked down. It’s about getting back up. We have to get back up in those games.

“We’ll get back up on Saturday, I guarantee it.”

Blashill is confident the Red Wings can find their way out of this current winless streak.

“I like our team,” Blashill said. “I like our combination of compete and skill, and veteran and young guys, and in my opinion, we understand what it takes to win and understanding to our identity. Guys have bought in 100 percent.

“I don’t see any lack of belief in what we’re doing here. When you do all those things, you keep grinding and keep grinding the next thing you know, you’re playing good hockey and maybe you’ve won four or five games in a row.”

Frk ready

Martin Frk (groin) practiced during Friday’s optional workout and said he’s ready to play against the Canadiens.

Blashill stopped short of saying Frk will be in the lineup, after missing the last eight games.

“When he plays with confidence, he’s been a really good player,” Blashill said. “He does one thing that’s real hard to come by in this league, and that’s score goals. When you have more guys in your lineup that can score easy, it absorbs the games where maybe you don’t play to that optimal level.”

Red Wings at Canadiens

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Bell Centre, Montreal

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: It’s a rematch of Thursday’s game, in which the Red Wings lost 6-3…Montreal has won four consecutive games to move into the top half of the Atlantic Division standings.