Wings pay for lethargic loss with physical practice
Detroit — There were no surprises.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill strongly hinted after Monday’s sleepwalking loss to Carolina that the Wings would work hard at Tuesday’s practice.
He wasn’t kidding.
It was physical, there was loads of skating, and a message was clearly delivered.
“It wasn’t going to be a fun day of power play, for sure,” forward Thomas Vanek said of the team’s expectation arriving for practice. “We’ve all played long enough where you know nobody is happy. Nobody is pleased. What is going here right now isn’t fun. It was to be expected.
“We have three days between games, so it’s a work day. We all need the work we can get. We have to get better. That’s the only message in here. There’s no secret to the game.”
Monday’s 3-1 loss left the Wings with the NHL’s worst record at 1-6-2. Their minus-18 goal differential is also the worst, as is the 38 goals the Wings have allowed.
The Wings rank 25th in the NHL with 28 shots per game, an area that has been troublesome all season, with players looking to pass the puck for the perfect play rather than getting a shot on net.
“What I know for sure is we have to shoot the puck 100 percent, and we better buy into it,” Blashill said. “We better buy into overshooting it. We have guys that want to make a play first and shoot second. We’ll continue to address that to make sure we have an overshoot mentality.
“We certainly have to learn to get to the net harder and make sure we’re overshooting the puck. I don’t think that’s a thing that’s solved easy when you have a bunch of guys that have a pass-first mentality. It’s something that’s going to be reminded and drove home to them.”
When Blashill saw a case of pass-first on Tuesday, there was an immediate consequence of side-to-side sprints.
“When we didn’t shoot the puck, we skated them,” Blashill said. “We’ll just keep doing it until we learn how to shoot the puck.”
Hronek headed to Griffins
Blashill announced after practice the Wings are sending defenseman Filip Hronek to Grand Rapids.
Hronek, 20, appeared in six games as the Wings’ defense was beset with injuries. Hronek had a goal and two assists with a minus-2 rating, while averaging 19 minutes, 11 seconds per game.
“He has a bright future,” said Blashill, noting Hronek will get plenty of time in the minor leagues on the penalty kill. “He didn’t get to kill many penalties last year. We’re hoping it’s another asset he can bring.
“He ended up focusing on the power play last year and he did a fantastic job. As a second-year pro he’s obviously a good power play guy, now let’s get him to where he’s a penalty killer.
“He understands, he wants to play. He’d rather play than sit in the stands. He knows there are things he has to get better at.”
As for forward Michael Rasmussen, Blashill indicated the Wings aren’t concerned about having him reaching the 10-game mark and using the first year of his entry-level contract, meaning Rasmussen will stay with the Wings for the foreseeable future.
“Our feeling is we’d like to continue to take a long-term development look,” Blashill said. “We’re not going to let that (the 10-game mark) necessarily dictate a 100 percent what we do.
“It’s not a huge, huge deal. We’re not going to let that pressure us into a decision. We want to do what’s best long-term for him.”
Rasmussen, 19, has an assist in eight games, while averaging over 12 minutes of ice time.
The Wings feel Rasmussen — at least for now — is best served staying in the NHL, even if he’s sitting at times rather than playing full-time in junior hockey.
“He’s shown progress. He’s a real good player,” Blashill said. “There can be arguments made by being here, even if he’s not in the lineup every day, it can help his development potentially as much as being back where he’s had moments of dominance.
“We’re going to take our time with it and make sure we’re helping him be the best player he can be.”
Defenseman Mike Green (virus) is expected to make his season debut Friday against Winnipeg, while Blashill wouldn’t rule out defenseman Danny DeKeyser (hand) returning Sunday against Dallas.
“Say whatever you want, they’re real good defensemen in this league, top-four for most teams in this league,” Blashill said on the impact both would have to the lineup.
Green made it through Tuesday's rugged practice, which was a good sign in itself.
"It was good, I needed to see where I was at," Green said. "That was a good way (to see). It was a good skate."
…Forward Jacob de la Rose, who was claimed off waivers last week, could be at Thursday’s practice.
Blashill said de la Rose has been medically cleared, but he’s still working through immigration issues.
“Until we work through immigration, he can’t be here,” Blashill said. “We’re hoping that happens in the next day or two.”