Humdrum Red Wings look east for inspiration

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill

Detroit — It’s been a while, feels like a long while, but it’s time to get back on the road for the Red Wings.

If you’ve had the sense they’ve set up shop at Little Caesars Arena lately, you’re right.

The Red Wings completed a home stand in which they’ve played 13 of 15 games at LCA — with only a 4-4-5 record to show for the home games — and are now playing three games before the Christmas break (and one right after).

The last road game for the Red Wings? It was one they’d rather forget, the 10-1 loss Dec. 2 in Montreal.

But after spending all this time at home, the Wings are looking forward to going on this East Coast swing.

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“It’ll be a good time (to be on the road) if we win,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If you had your druthers, as a team, as you’d like to spend a week at home and week on the road and mix it up, not go on really long stretches of either. But I do think, especially when you get to the Christmas holiday, it can be an advantage to get on the road and have that bunker mentality and away from some of the commitments you have when you’re at home.”

The Red Wings (12-13-7, 31 points) have been about as average as can be, either at or away from LCA.

They’re 6-6-6 at home, 6-7-1 on the road.

But with the Red Wings in need of points to move up the standings, this trip against Eastern Conference opponents is crucial.

“We’ve played well on the road,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s a good time for us to be on the road and spend a little more time with each other. You have to simplify your game a little bit on the road.”

The Red Wings visit Brooklyn to face the Islanders (18-12-3, 39 points) to open the trip (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit, 97.1 FM).

The Islanders have scored the second most goals in the East (118 goals) — and allowed the second most goals (115).

“You definitely don’t want to give them easy opportunities,” Abdelkader said. “You have to play a smart game because they have a lot of offensive firepower.”

Return home

Forward Frans Nielsen is in his second season with the Red Wings, but it’s still a charge to head to New York and face the Islanders.

Nielsen played his first 10 seasons with the Islanders and has many friends on the team and in the area.

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“It’s still (exciting),” Nielsen said. “It’s always going to be weird going back there and playing against them.

“They’re going to need to switch a few more players before (it’s not going to be weird).”

Nielsen isn’t surprised the Islanders have gotten off to such a good start.

“They had some question marks heading into the season, players they didn’t know about,” Nielsen said. “But they’ve turned out to be game changers for them. They have some serious talent on that team.”

Red Wings at Islanders

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Barclays Center

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Islanders (18-12-3, 39 points) have been dominant at home (10-2-2), though overall, they’re 4-5-1 over their last 10 games … C John Tavares (19 goals, 40 points) and rookie C Matthew Barzal (21 assists, 29 points) top list of offensive threats.