Red Wings 'need to find a way' to end long skid in Boston
Detroit – The TD Garden is a great place to watch a hockey game. Boston fans are among the best in the NHL and the Bruins are always competitive.
But for the Red Wings, it’s become a house of horrors.
The Wings have lost 11 consecutive games in Boston if you count the 2014 playoffs – nine straight in the regular season.
Saturday, the Wings get another chance to stop that unpleasant streak.
“You’re aware of it,” forward Dylan Larkin said Friday. “We never seem to put it together in Boston. There have been games we’ve been close.
“But we need to find a way.”
This time, the Wings could have some confidence and momentum on their side. They defeated the Bruins on Nov. 21 at Little Caesars Arena, 3-2 in overtime, ending a seven-game Boston win streak over the Wings overall.
“I don’t think it has an effect mentally,” said coach Jeff Blashill of the long losing streak in Boston. “We haven’t done well in their building but it really isn’t the case of it being in our head at all. We just haven’t played well enough and they’ve won.
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“We have to go in there and play a great game and we know that.”
The Wings can use their last game in Boston as motivation.
If you remember – the Wings certainly would prefer to forget – Boston crushed the Wings 8-2 on Oct. 13, one of the biggest beatdowns the Wings have suffered in recent seasons.
That was a Wings roster that had four rookie defensemen playing because of injuries, and that contributed to the poor showing.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall was asked if the players are motivated at all by that one-sided setback.
“No doubt about that,” Kronwall said. “Definitely.”
Said Blashill: “The reality is we didn’t play good enough and they played better than us. They scored, and that’s the way it goes. We came into that game, had a good first period, and they scored late (in the first period) and things really went the wrong the way. We’re a totally different team now. Now, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen again, but we’re a totally different team. We have a lot of veterans back, and we have more confidence.”
A good start Saturday would help. The Bruins feed off the emotion at TD Garden and are known for their swarming first periods.
If the Wings can have a good start of their own, it could lead to a favorable finish.
“It’s a loud building and they get on a roll at home,” Larkin said. “Their power play always seems to be clicking at home. We have to stay disciplined and find a way to put it together.”
Blashill said defenseman Trevor Daley will be out Saturday, and likely will not play Sunday either against Colorado, with an undisclosed injury.
Daley was hurt in the first period of Wednesday’s victory over St. Louis and didn’t return for the second period.
“He will not play in Boston, and I don’t anticipate him playing at home against Colorado,” Blashill said. “Things can change, but that’s what I would anticipate. We’ll re-evaluate on Monday.”
Blashill said the injury is day-to-day.
Losing Daley hurts, but the Wings did get defenseman Jonathan Ericsson back Wednesday. So, in essence, it’s a tradeoff of available players.
“It’s good to have E back in the lineup, he’ll fill some of that (void),” Kronwall said. “But losing a guy like Daley definitely doesn’t help.”
Defenseman Mike Green missed the first nine games of the season because of a virus, but since he’s returned the Wings have been a different team.
The Wings were 1-6-2 without Green and are now at .500 (11-11-3), and Green has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 16 games, with a plus-9 rating.
“Having a guy with his stature in the league and his ability, when you get him back, it helps, you’re a better team,” Blashill said. “He’s a great role model for our younger players.”
Though known for his offensive game, Green has played generally sound defensively since returning.
“From the time he’s got here, he’s worked hard at his defensive game,” Blashill said. “He’s really gotten way better in a lot of different areas. He cares a ton, so his compete level in the zone is great. He’s not always perfect, but none of us are.”
Red Wings at Bruins
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, TD Garden, Boston
TV/radio: FSD Plus/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Bruins (14-7-4, 32 points) have been able to maintain during a stretch where injuries have decimated their lineup. … They’re 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. The Bruins are 9-2-0 at home this season. … RW David Pastrnak (19 goals, 29 points) leads offensively. G Tuukka Rask (2.54 GAA, .917 SVS) gets the start against the Wings.