Red Wings try to block out frustrations from difficult stretch

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The Red Wings are 2-9-3 in their last 14 games, but forward Gustav Nyquist says,  “you can’t let the frustration get to you.”

Detroit — The practice was intense, with a lot of physical contact. The Red Wings’ coaching staff was  instructing in loud voices, and players were listening.

The Red Wings, and everyone else, know their record (16-22-7) and position in the standings. They’re not hiding from it.

But nobody around the team appears to be drowning in the losses, stuck in the whirlwind of despair.

“You can’t let the frustration get to you,” forward Gustav Nyquist said. “We talk about that. All you can do, first off, you have to look in the mirror and see what you can do better individually to make the team better.

“And you keep grinding. This season is long, and we have a lot of games left. We’re only halfway through it. We’re going to battle and give everything we have to get back on track.”

There’s no question the Wings have slid off the rails here recently.

The Wings are 2-9-3 over their last 14 games. They just concluded a disappointing five-game home stand (1-3-1), and now play five of their last six games before the All-Star Game on the road.

The playoffs are becoming a distant memory by the second, which would be a third consecutive season of missing the postseason.

But frustration — many of the recent losses easily could have been victories, the way the Wings played — isn’t allowed the locker room.

"We have lots of games left," Nyquist said. "We’ve been in a lot of close games, but saying that, it’s not good enough. We have to figure out a way to win them. We can’t let that frustration get to us. We have to work every day and get better.”

Coach Jeff Blashill has preached continuously about the need to forge ahead, not look back, and forget about frustration.

The messages seem to be clicking.

“We went through the last three five-game segments with our players, and the record was identical, 1-3-1 in all three of those segments,” Blashill said. “But if you look at the process of the three segments, the first segment wasn’t good at all, and it got better, to the point where we had more chances than the opponent, more Grade A’s (chances) than the opponent, and more zone time than the opponent in the last segment.

“If you do that again, you’ll get results. You just will. That’s just the way it works over long periods of time. We did that against teams, three of which are favorites in the Stanley Cup mix, and two of which are in the playoff mix right now. We have to make sure we put ourselves in position to win games, which we did in the last five games and find a way to win.

“We have to find a way to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s home or on the road, we have to find ways to win.”

Strange statistics

The Red Wings aren’t exactly excelling on special teams, ranking 20th on the penalty kill (78.5 percent) and 21st on the power play (17.1 percent) when play began Thursday.

But the splits for the two units, at home and on the road, are quite incredible.

At Little Caesars Arena, the Wings rank 29th on the power play (11.9 percent) and 28th on the penalty kill (73.4 percent), both dismal numbers.

But they’re strangely so much better on the road.

The Wings ranked sixth on the power play (24 percent) and third on the penalty kill (84.3 percent), statistics which would make the Wings a playoff contender.

Nobody had a reasonable explanation for the disparate numbers.

“If there was a reason that I knew, we’d fix it for sure,” Blashill said. “Any reason I have, would be gut, not facts, and I like to try to deal in facts.

“We haven’t gotten it done at home. I can’t tell you why. It’s a good thing we’re on the road, I guess.”

Ice chips

With defenseman Mike Green returning to the lineup Friday in Winnipeg, the Wings sent defenseman Brian Lashoff back to Grand Rapids.

... Blashill said defenseman Danny DeKeyser (hand) could return after this two-game road trip, while defenseman Trevor Daley (foot) isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break and by week, in early February.

Twitter: @tkulfan

Red Wings at Jets

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Friday, Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Outlook: Winnipeg (27-13-2, 56 points) defeated the Wings in Detroit earlier this season and remains a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. …T he Jets have the second-ranked power play in the NHL and boast a deep lineup, including RW Blake Wheeler (48 assists), C Mark Scheifele (23 goals, 30 assists) and RW Patrik Laine (24 goals).