'Not good enough': Time running out on passive Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jimmy Howard cools down during the Red Wings' loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night.

Detroit – There’s not much time left for the Detroit Red Wings to suddenly get on a run and make the playoffs.

So, to be as passive as they were Tuesday in losing 3-2 to the Bruins, was perplexing.

“On the road (where the Red Wings split two games) we had 20 guys going hard,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “(Tuesday) we had a handful of guys going hard. We weren’t good enough. We didn’t have enough guys going hard.

“We have to be better than that. You can’t pretend your way into it. You have to be way more ready to compete.”

The start was particularly passive, and gradually, the red-hot Bruins took control of the game.

The Red Wings didn’t give the Bruins any pushback until the third period, and by then, it was too late.

“There are no moral victories,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We have to be better from the start if we want to win games. We weren’t good enough.”

What made it further strange was that the Red Wings played so competitively on the road, winning convincingly in Carolina and losing in the final seven seconds on a controversial goaltending interference penalty in Florida.

“We were shooting pucks, competing, we were tough to play against,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “Then we come out (Tuesday) and no response at all. It’s just frustrating. It’s been like that for a long time.

“It’s going to be too late if we don’t figure it out. If we stand here and next week sometime and you’re asking the same question, it’s going to be too late. We have to figure it out now.”

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The Wings have 50 points – 17 behind third-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division. They’re eight points behind in the wild-card standings.

Blashill didn’t single out anyone in particular for poor play Tuesday, but several times mentioned “young” players.

Andreas Athanasiou (10:57 TOI, minus-2, 15 shifts, one giveaway, no shots) and Tyler Bertuzzi (7:54, minus-2, 11 shifts, no shots) had limited ice time while playing on the fourth line, and Anthony Mantha had a quiet night (two shots, one giveaway, 17:18).

“This is what the league is – it’s every single day,” Blashill said. “I want these young guys to grow so I don’t want to hide them. But they have to play better than that.”

A few of the older forwards didn’t make huge impacts, either.

Tomas Tatar had no shots and was minus-1 in 15:26. Gustav Nyquist had one shot in 17:30.

“We didn’t get any real pressure on the forecheck,” Zetterberg said. “We didn’t really get any opportunities to shoot.”

Blashill pointed out Tuesday – as he has a few times this season – the Red Wings aren’t going to be able to “out-skill” teams.

So, a determined work ethic is needed every night.

“We’re not going to skill our way to wins,” Blashill said. “We have to outwork the other team every night. You just have to decide that we’re going to be special that way and we’ve had moments of it for sure.

“But we didn’t (Tuesday). In order to win, and there are some teams that can skill their way to wins, we’re not one of them. We have to understand that.”

A young player in the NHL will undergo a learning process as to what it takes to compete every day in the NHL.

“It’s natural and normal,” Blashill said. “But we don’t want to be normal. We have to understand and recognize that we’ll have to be special in our work ethic and compete every single night.”