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Offensive woes contributing to Red Wings' poor start

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — To win games, a team needs to score goals.

Obviously, the Red Wings haven’t done a good job of doing either.

Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen

They have the NHL’s worst record with only one victory in the opening 10 games (1-7-2) — and have struggled mightily offensively, which has led to all the defeats.

With 21 goals for, they rank 28th in the NHL, which is also where the Wings’ stand in goals per game average (2.10).

Shots aren’t always a perfect indicator of offensive prowess, but ranking 27th in that department (28.0 per game) shows they aren’t getting many opportunities to score.

Bottom line: the Wings’ have scored 21 goals in 10 games. That isn’t nearly good enough to win hockey games.

“We haven’t scored enough,” said forward Frans Nielsen, who is searching for his first goal this season. “I can’t tell you why, but right now we have to find a way. It doesn’t matter how it looks.

“I don’t think we have 40 goal scorers, but we have guys who can score. Vanny (Thomas Vanek) can score, we know that, we have players who can. But we are a team without superstars and it has to come from everyone.”

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Coach Jeff Blashill has preached consistently about the value of shooting the puck, not falling into a rut of over-passing, and making sure to be there at the net for rebounds and “dirty” goals.

The Wings have been better in those areas, but there remains work to do.

“There’s no secret in life, you keep working, and we’ll keep working at the things that you have to,” Blashill said. “We have had chances, and we have to score on our chances. We’ve preached here for a while about making sure we’re on the goalie’s eyes, create a bit of a net presence, and we’re getting better there.

“We did good stuff in the offensive zone (in Friday’s loss to Winnipeg) and we had some real chances. We have to just keep working.”

Sticking together

The poor start to the season, the endless losing, could easily create fractures and discontent.

But you aren’t seeing that with the Wings, who appear to be as tight as they were during training camp.

“Absolutely, there’s nothing there,” Nielsen said. “The group is sticking together. We are trying to have fun in here every day. We just have to find a way and work ourselves out of this.”

Nielsen has been through some poor starts to the season with the New York Islanders, but it’s the lack of offense that is frustrating and puzzling.

“We had (bad starts with the Islanders) but never not scoring like this,” Nielsen said. “I haven’t seen that before.

“We have to get out and try to find a way (to win). It doesn’t matter how you look, just find a way and hopefully you can string together (wins) and suddenly, maybe, you get some confidence in the room again.”

Ice chips

Forward Michael Rasmussen looks to be re-entering the lineup Sunday against Dallas. Rasmussen, enduring a tough rookie season, was a healthy scratch Friday against Winnipeg.

…The offense has struggled at even strength, but the Wings’ power play is holding its own and giving the team a chance to prosper. The power play was ranked 12th entering Saturday’s schedule, producing at a 25-percent clip.

“We’ve had a good attack mentality, a good shot mentality,” said Blashill of the power play. “You have a few options for net presence and two units that are competing against each other. I would say it seems like we get chances every night on the power play.

“With that said, we had one (power play) late in the second (period Friday) and one in the third and we have to score on it. It’s a lot of pressure on the power play, but we need the power play to be great, not good.”

Stars vs. Red Wings

Faceoff: 5 p.m., Sunday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook:  Dallas (5-4, 10 points) has won its last two games to get over the .500 mark. ... C Tyler Seguin (3 goals, 8 assists) and RW Alexander Radulov (4 goals, 6 assists) are off to fine starts, while G Ben Bishop (2.33 GAA, .923 SVS) is providing stability in net.