Red Wings to focus on limiting opponents' chances

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Los Angeles and Washington had way too many opportunities to score against the Red Wings the past two games.

Los Angeles didn’t capitalize. The Capitals did.

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made 42 saves against the Kings, who had plenty of chances against Detroit.

Regardless of who did and didn’t, it’s important to limit those scoring chances, and you can bet coach Jeff Blashill and his staff will focus on that at practice Thursday morning.

“Certainly we’ve given up way too many chances the last couple of games,” Blashill said. “You’re not going to survive those chances. You have to make sure to get back to making sure teams earn their offense.

“I didn’t think our execution to detail was very good at all (in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss in Washington). Changes were bad, just nonsensical stuff, that we have to get better at.”

The amount of odd-man rushes, the way Washington spread the Wings in the zone and created opportunities, it was all a recipe for lack of success.

The Kings didn’t take advantage, mainly due to the goaltending of Jimmy Howard.

Washington, and its collection of offensive stars led by Alex Ovechkin, worked the Wings over.

“We gave them a lot of odd-man rushes, and a lot of speed through the neutral zone,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “They’re a team that skates well and can create a lot in the offensive zone. We couldn’t sustain puck pressure. No one was really getting on the puck and they can make it really tough on you.

“We have to make sure that the details in our game are really good.”

Power outage

There’s another area that needs fixing, too.

The Wings’ power play has been a negative for nearly a month, having gone 2-for-31 in the last 14 games.

Teams will say it helps to get the puck near the net and create havoc around the opposing goaltender — something the Wings aren’t doing enough of lately.

“We’re not getting pucks around the net as much as were,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We’re trying to set up the pretty play; there’s a lot of one-and-dones and we’re aware of that. We’re trying to minimize that.

“We need to create chaos around the net and bang in a rebound. That’s all it’ll take.”

Blashill would like to see the Wings “shoot the puck, to break people down,"  but retrieving the puck is also a must.

“If you don’t shoot the puck, you don’t break people down, but if you don’t get (the puck) back, then shooting the puck ends up a waste of time. So guys that are on the power play have to take more pride in it, they have to be better at it, or different guys are going tobe on it.”

Not a problem

Judging by social media, many fans were on goaltender Jonathan Bernier as a key reason for the Wings’ troubles in Washington.

Bernier was lifted in the second period after allowing five goals on 15 shots. But Blashill didn’t put any blame on this loss on the goaltending, noting the quality of chances Washington was getting against Bernier.

“I don’t know if I’ve been in a 5-0 game where the goalie had as little chance as he had,” Blashill said. “On five goals, he had no chance. The only two he really has a chance on, you have Ovechkin coming down on a 2-on-1, one of the best goal-scorers of all time, and (on the other, T.J.) Oshie wide open in the slot, one of the premier goal-scorers of today. Come on.

“I feel bad for him (Bernier), but what he has to do is just put it behind him and move on.”

Said Larkin: “It was tough seeing Bernie get pulled because of our play. He’s been so good for us all year.”

Twitter: @kulfan