Ineffective power play hurting Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
“We’re rimming the puck too much and we’re getting pressured and it’s going 200 feet the other way,” said Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin on the team's struggling power play.

Detroit — The Red Wings’ power play hasn’t been as dangerous as it was earlier this month.

And that’s leading to a lot less team success.

In recent games, a key power-play goal could have turned the complexion of the game in the Red Wings’ favor.

But power-play goals have been few and far between.

The Red Wings haven’t generated nearly enough pressure, and what could be a game-changer has turned into two minutes of frustration.

“We’ve had different issues on different nights,” said coach Jeff Blashill after Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss against Buffalo, in which the Wings were 0-for-4 on the power play. “(Friday in Washington) we couldn’t win any faceoffs. (Saturday) our entires were pretty good, but then we’d shoot it and not get it back.”

The Red Wings have no power-play goals in their last five games, a stretch in which they are 0-for-11. In the past eight games, they are 1-for-19.

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Blashill felt the Wings needed to win more puck battles on the power play against the Sabres.

“I would say a definite lack of execution, probably a little bit lack of won puck battles,” Blashill said. “On good power plays you shoot it, you get it back, you shoot it, and you get it back. We’re shooting and not getting it back, so that’s a killer. It hasn’t been nearly dangerous enough.

“The hard part is you don’t have any practice time the way the schedule is coming up here. So our guys have to step up and make some plays.”

Dylan Larkin believes the Wings need to work as a five-man unit on the power play.

“We need to come together and come up the ice together and get in the zone and release it high,” Larkin said. “We’re rimming the puck too much and we’re getting pressured and it’s going 200 feet the other way.”

After living in the top 10 of the NHL rankings on the power play for most of the first quarter of the schedule, the Wings have fallen to 16th heading into Sunday’s games, at an even 20 percent.

“Later in the game we kicked it back up to our defensemen and they walked the blue line, we got to our spots and set up,” Larkin said. “That’s what we have to do, to get pucks to the net and bodies to the net and score dirty goals.”

Mini slump

This Red Wings' two-game losing streak is the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since Oct. 22 and 26, against Carolina and Winnipeg.

But in these losses to Washington and Buffalo, the Wings felt they played well enough to win either, or both, games.

That gives the Wings reason to head into another busy week against quality opponents with confidence.

“We just keep grinding,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “There’s no giving up, we know that we are in every game. Howie (goaltender Jimmy Howard) gives us a chance to win every night, both our goalies (also Jonathan Bernier) do. That, and we find a way.”

Ice chips

Larkin’s 10 shots on net Saturday were a season-high for the Wings.  Larkin also has 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) in his last 13 games, after scoring a goal against the Sabres.

…Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (lower body) was day-to-day, said Blashill, and could be ready for Monday’s game against Columbus. Ericsson has been out since injuring himself in the weight room after the game against New Jersey Nov. 1.

… Justin Abdelkader’s nine hits against Buffalo were a season-high for the Wings.

Twitter: @tkulfan

Blue Jackets at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: Columbus (13-8-2, 28 points) trails Washington by one point for the Metropolitan Division lead. … The Blue Jackets are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, shaking off a inconsistent start. … RW Cam Atkinson (15 goals) and LW Artemi Panarin (18 assists) lead offensively, while G Sergei Bobrovsky (2.59 GAA, .917 SVS) is returning to his elite level.