Detroit — With goals going in by the bushelfuls in some recent games, the Red Wings hope some better play all around the ice, not just in goal, helps them against the Florida Panthers on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
“I think it’s on all of us,” Jeff Blashill said, after a 1-4-0 run in which the Red Wings have a minus-16 goal differential, since Nov. 28. “Team defense, the coaches, the goaltender, we’ve all got to be better.
“What happens at times, you give up easy goals, breakaways, back-doors things like that and it eats away at you as a goalie, in terms of your confidence. And then you don’t play as well.”
Going into play Monday, the Red Wings are tied with the Coyotes and Ducks for the most goaltending changes in games, with five. Seven other teams have four.
While Jimmy Howard faulted himself for not stopping more shots Saturday in the 6-1 loss to the Blues, defensive breakdowns and carelessness with the puck and some poor positioning of a defenseman’s stick that resulted in a deflected goal were clearly significant causes of the lopsided loss.
“I think they go hand-in-hand, team defense and great goaltending and I think I’m responsible for both.”
Asked if it will affect how he uses Howard and Petr Mrazek, Blashill said, “We’ll continue to make decisions as we move along, but we know we can’t give up that many goals.”
Howard has played in 24 games and Mrazek in 10. Howard is 9-9-0 with a 2.95 goals against average and a .905 save percentage, two measures of performance that have suffered mightily in the recent deluge of goals against the Red Wings.
Mrazek is giving up an average of 3.73 goals per game and saving at a rate of .888.
Blashill faced the difficulty of Howard playing well for much of the first 25 games of the season while trying to find time for Mrazek to play.
Right now, neither goalie is hot. But they also lack defensive support.
The Wings continue to think they played as well against the Blues for the first two periods of the 6-1 loss, as they did against the Jets in the previous game, a 5-1 victory.
But they know it is not enough, and they know it is a 60-minute game.
“The hardest thing you have to do is stick with the great process, when the process was great,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure.”