Blashill says Wings ‘playing better’ than last season

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Philadelphia — The Red Wings feel like they’re playing well enough.

They feel they’re doing enough good things.

But, without a doubt, the results haven’t been positive enough.

Wednesday’s game was a classic example. The Red Wings lost 4-3 in Philadelphia, but if it were a boxing match the Red Wings might have won on (style) points.

But, one key breakdown in the third period broke a 3-3 tie, with the Flyers capitalizing with a goal, and the Red Wings suffering another key loss.

“We played better overall then we did (Tuesday, a 6-3 win over New York Islanders),” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We had our chances. They had their chances, too. We wanted to get at least one point out of it and take our chances in overtime.”

Those fans, players, and anyone else who are saying it’s still early in the season are correct, to an extent.

But the season is quickly approaching its halfway point.

And for the Red Wings, the second half looks daunting with a road-heavy schedule.

Here’s another thing to consider.

As well as the Red Wings have looked at times this season, they’re actually one point behind last season’s pace at this time (13-14-7, 33 points to last year’s 15-15-4, 34 points).

And everyone knows how last season ended.

“I know we’re playing better,” said coach Jeff Blashill, comparing the two seasons. “I know that. I know we’re poised to be able to go on a much better run than we did coming out of late December and January last year. I know that for a fact.

“We just have to do it. We have to make sure we keep our heads in the right place and keep grinding and finding a way to win as much as possible.

“We have to find a way to as many points as we can.”

The hope among the Red Wings is the bad luck and unfortunate bounces that hurt them most of the last six weeks will turn around in the near future.

But time is beginning to slowly become a factor.

“Everyone is playing a lot better than last year,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “It’s just, right now, we’re not getting the results that we want, and that’s just hockey.

“Sometimes that happens. You go and outplay, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at the same time. (But) we’ll continue to go out there and find ways to get points.”


Glendening hurt

The Red Wings didn’t practice Thursday and there was no update on forward Luke Glendening, who injured his right hand/wrist against the Flyers.

Glendening only played just under three minutes in the first period (2:58) before leaving.

Blashill didn’t have an update after the game as to the severity of the injury. The Wings recalled forward Tyler Bertuzzi from Grand Rapids on Thursday.

“Glennie is a real important player for our team,” Blashill said. “He’s a big factor to the PK (penalty kill) having success. I generally can find ways to get him out there matched against the other team’s top lines.

“Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later. But if not, we have lots of good players here and people have to step up in the meantime.”

Ice chips

The Red Wings will practice Friday at TD Garden, before closing out the pre-holiday break portion of the schedule with a Saturday afternoon game against the Bruins.

The NHL shuts down Dec. 24-26.

... Dylan Larkin’s five assists in the last two games have pushed him to a team-leading 29 points (24 assists). Larkin had 32 points (15 assists) all last season.

“He wants to be the best young player on the ice every night,” Blashill said. “He’s got big time competitiveness that way.”