Detroit — The Red Wings hoped for a fast start, after a preseason in which they lost their captain and a key to their offense, Henrik Zetterberg.
Wins might settle down a young team and establish some clear performance leaders that players could look to, as they used to look to Zetterberg, for a boost.
But 0-2-2 and the second-worst goal differential in the NHL, at minus-6, is not getting it done.
In their first two seasons out of the playoffs in 25 seasons, the Wings opened 2016-17 with a 6-2 record, and 2017-18 at 4-1.
Anxiety about when the first win will come is mixing with the need to remain patient, as the roster develops and blends.
“For us, it’s about getting off to a good start, with the lead, and then just taking care of pucks,” said Danny DeKeyser, whose 23:45 time on ice per game leads Red Wings defensemen by 1:29 (Niklas Kronwall, 22:16; Dennis Cholowski, 22:10).
“Obviously, you want to get that first win as soon as you can. The longer it drags out, it starts to wear on you a little bit,” the 28-year-old native of Macomb Township said.
“You’ve just got to make sure that doesn’t happen, and that you stay dialed in mentally, out there.”
Frans Nielsen sees the need for some adjustments.
“Right now, we’re playing a little too soft, on the outside,” he said. “It’s too easy for their defensemen to box us out and keep us away from the net.
“We’ve got to fight to get in there.”
Much of the work at a vigorous practice Friday concerned the power play.
The Red Wings stressed a behind-the-net set up, and sought to establish the substantial, persistent net-front presence, which was also the topic of a video session.
“We’ve run some options with it in the preseason,” coach Jeff Blashill said, of originating the power play attack from behind the net.
“It’s not something you would do exclusively, but certainly some options on it.
“There’s a few teams that do it. If you go internationally, especially Russia,” said the coach of the last two USA teams in the World Championship.
“Russia does it a lot and are highly, highly effective at it.
“When you go behind the net, everyone looks behind the net. And, hopefully, you can get it out to a shooter.”
John Niyo and Ted Kulfan preview the 2018-19 Red Wings season. The Detroit News
Nick Jensen scored two of the Wings’ three goals in the loss to the Maple Leafs, and is credited with a significant rebound from a training camp.
Jensen said that he did not like his 2017 camp, either.
In trying to achieve better conditioning, he said he worked hard, right up to camp.
Some of the blood tests the Wings perform as part of the training routine indicated good reasons for his fatigue, Jensen said.
“For me, and a lot of players deal with this, it was about energy,” he said. “All summer, you work so hard, and I went five days a week on the conditioning, it’s almost like I was working too hard.
“We did some blood work and talked to the nutritionist. She basically said, you’ve been beating the stuff out of yourself,” Jensen said.
“It has to do with recovery, too.”
Has he ever scored a hat trick?
“Yeah, in college,” said the former St. Cloud State Huskies player. “It was against Denver — I believe.”
Red Wings at Bruins
Faceoff: 3 Saturday, TD Garden, Boston
Outlook: Jeff Blashill said the Red Wings will be without Dennis Cholowski, who participated in much of practice Friday. ... Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy anticipates the return of Ryan Donato, after the rookie was a healthy scratch in the Bruins 4-1 victory over the Oilers on Thursday.