Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill talks about producing more "dirty" goals. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit — The message has been consistent all season, but delivered by coach Jeff Blashill with a bit more bite after the All Star break.
Shoot the puck.
The Red Wings haven’t been doing it enough most of the season, but they certainly got the message for Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout victory over San Jose.
The Red Wings were credited with a season-high 44 shots on net — almost double the 24 they put on net against Chicago in the last game before the All Star break.
“We played fast,” said forward Dylan Larkin, talking about one of the by-products of getting more shots on net. “Our defense did a good job of getting shots through. We had a lot of offensive zone time.
“(It’s things) we have to do every night.”
Getting more shots is something Blashill stressed in a meeting to players right after the All Star break.
After the 44 shot night against San Jose, the Red Wings moved up Thursday to 28th in the NHL, averaging 29.9 shots per game (Florida ranks 1st, at 34.6).
“It’s something we talked about it,” said Blashill, of the need to get more shots on net. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to do every night but we have to keep working toward it. Our guys hopefully recognize one way to more offense, and it led to more chances, is dirty goals and dirty goals are produced by getting pucks to the net and creating chaos.”
Another part of the 44 shots that Blashill liked is the fact 19 of those 44 shots were credited to Red Wings’ defensemen.
Precious little offense has originated from the defense, other than Mike Green. So to see defensemen get the puck on net and igniting scoring opportunities, was a welcome sight.
“That’s an area that we need more offense from, our back end,” Blashill said. “An easy thing to do it is to have a shooting mentality.”
What Blashill has been seeing — and has been a Red Wings’ issue for the last several seasons — is a pass-first mentality, with the Red Wings passing on shots and making passes to create a supposedly even better scoring opportunity that might not exist.
“We have a lot of guys on this team that have a natural tendency to make a play,” Blashill said. “We just have to get through to ourselves that we have to have a shot mentality.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t make a play when is a play is there to be made. But you have to have a shooting mentality and it’s something we’re going to harp on.”
Sit and wait
Blashill said goaltender Petr Mrazek will get the start Friday in Carolina, with no decision yet made on Saturday’s game in Florida.
So, with that Jimmy Howard sits for the third time in four games — with Howard’s only start in that span, an almost 9 minute appearance before being pulled in favor of Mrazek in the loss against Chicago.
Howard understands Blashill’s decision to go with Mrazek.
“I’ve been around long enough, I realize the team needs wins and points,” said Howard, noting Mrazek has been getting those valuable victories.
Practice becomes even more vital for Howard, now that he isn’t seeing game action.
“You do your part in practice, treat practices like games, and when you’re finally called upon, you have to take the ball and run with it yourself,” Howard said. “It’s part of the job, and when the other guy is rolling you have to be ready.”
Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar talks about the preparation surrounding his shootout goal. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Tomas Tatar’s goal during Wednesday’s shootout became a social media sensation, making Sharks goalie Martin Jones look helpless trying to defend the slick move.
Could, or would, Tatar pull off the dazzling stickhandling during game action? Or are some moves strictly saved for the shootout?
“Hard to say,” Tatar said. “In a real game, when you have a breakaway, you don’t have that much time. It’s possible, but when you go on a shootout, you have time to think about what you’re going to do.”
Tatar was committed to the move before his shootout attempt.
“I had a feeling it might work against that goalie,” Tatar said. “I tried it and I was fortunate to put the puck in the net.
“I actually kind of thought about it, that I’m going to do that. Usually I don’t really think about what I’m going to do. But from watching (previous shooters that game), I thought I’m going to try that.”
Henrik Zetterberg didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice, but Blashill said it was strictly a “maintenance” day and Zetterberg will be ready to play.
… The Red Wings killed both Sharks power-play attempts they had Wednesday, with the return of forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, and defenseman Trevor Daley, a big reason for the success.
“Getting the personnel back, and they do a good job of reading off each other well,” Blashill said. “(From) the beginning of the year we’ve tried to keep some of the pairs and you could really see some chemistry build. When guys got hurt you lose some of that.”
Red Wings at Hurricanes
Faceoff: 7 p.m., Friday, PNC Arena
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit//97.1 The Ticket.
Outlook: The Red Wings make their lone visit to Carolina (23-19-8, 54 points) this regular season…The Hurricanes defeated the Red Wings 3-1 January 20 at Little Caesars Arena…RW Sebastian Aho (17 goals) celebrated his return to the lineup Tuesday with a goal.