Home ice has been no advantage for Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his second-period goal against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Friday night.

Detroit – The Red Wings would like to establish Little Caesars Arena as a place where there’s a definite home-ice advantage.

A little more than a year of playing at their new home rink, opponents aren’t finding it that difficult of a place to steal a victory.

The Red Wings were winless in four games (0-3-1) at LCA heading into Sunday’s game against Dallas.

The Wings were 16-16-9 at LCA last season. They were 17-17-7 two seasons ago in their final season at Joe Louis Arena.

As the Wings’ overall success has tumbled, so has any sort of home-ice advantage.

“We need to win, but certainly over the course of the last number of years, not just this year, we haven’t won enough at home,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We understand the urgency of that. It’s really hard to go on runs on the road. It’s much easier to try to win and (go) on a run at home. We have to do a better job of that.”

The Wings have played some of their better games this season at LCA, but just haven’t been able to earn that elusive first victory.

“The last game was the best start we’ve had at home, in the last three games probably our best game,” said Blashill of Friday’s 2-1 loss to Winnipeg. “But we have to find a way to make a play to win the game. We have to do everything we can to do a better job of getting the fans’ butts in the seats and giving them more to cheer about.”

The Red Wings have sold out all four of their home games this season and are third in the NHL in average attendance at 19,515. However, there have been plenty of empty seats at LCA.

“We have to do a better job here in order for that to happen,” Blashill said about energizing the fans. “I don’t think we’ve had enough times in this building where we’ve tilted the ice."

College trend

Dallas coach Jim Montgomery is the latest college coach to have jumped to the NHL – Montgomery coached at University of Denver – joining the New York Rangers’ David Quinn, Philadelphia’s Dave Hakstol and Blashill.

It’s become a trend, and one that Blashill feels could continue.

“I would say there is a trend, there’s been a number of guys who’ve come out of college now in the last number of years where it hadn’t happened before,” Blashill said.

Blashill thinks the increased number of American-born general managers in the NHL could be one reason NCAA coaches are getting NHL opportunities, as they have an increased respect for the college game.

“It’s a pool of coaches that has been untapped and there’s been some excellent coaches in the college game, and now it’s being tapped a little more,” Blashill said. “There are excellent coaches in other areas, but in the USHL (junior hockey) and college hockey, there are a number of excellent coaches.

“I’ve known Jim for a long time. He’s an excellent coach. He’s done an excellent job wherever he’s been.”

Learning lessons

Michael Rasmussen returned to the lineup Sunday after being a healthy scratch Friday.

“I want him to take another step and just keep taking steps,” Blashill said. “The thing we’ve talked about with him is moving his feet from tops of circles to tops of circles, playing at a faster pace, and being a big, strong body down low.

“Getting his butt out and knocking people off the puck and holding on to the puck and making plays off the cycle.”


Twitter @tkulfan