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Red Wings try to avoid frustration as tailspin continues

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
“We got to go out there and fight for every inch,” goaltender Jimmy Howard says about the Red Wings' remaining 17 games.

Detroit — The number of games left are dwindling, and the end of the hockey season is near.

The Red Wings can see the finish line, April 6, and deep inside, probably can’t wait for this disappointing season to end.

But there’s still work to do, with 17 games left on the schedule. They can’t call it a day just yet.

Currently in a seven-game winless streak — they’ve been 0-5-2 in that stretch — and only four points from the 31st and final spot in the NHL standings, the Wings are in discouraging tailspin.

Feeling frustrated?

When coach Jeff Blashill was asked after Saturday’s loss in Arizona if his team is frustrated, Blashill said he didn’t want anyone around the team to be frustrated.

“We’re NHL hockey players and NHL coaches,” Blashill said after the game. “We have to go win a game on Tuesday. I don’t care about frustration. It doesn’t do one bit of good. We have to get better. We got to prove that we can be a team that competes on a nightly basis.

“We’ve been a real good hockey team lots of times this year. We don’t have enough wins to show for it. Let’s be a real good hockey team. I’m not worried once ounce about frustration.

“We better work through it.”

The standings will be something fans concentrate on in the waning days and weeks ahead.

The lower the Wings finish in the standings, the better the odds of the team picking first in the Entry Draft in June.

Or second, or third.

It’s likely going to be a tight race.

Ottawa (Colorado owns the Senators’ pick) has the NHL’s worst record with 51 points. The Wings, with their recent slide, are next with 55 points.

They are followed by Los Angeles with 56 points, New Jersey (58) and Anaheim (59), with Edmonton, Chicago and Vancouver all with 63 points.

Ten of the 17 games the Wings have left are on the road, so it’ll be a difficult finish, with losses likely to mount.

Red Wings’ players have insisted all along they’re not interested in losing. They’re paid to win hockey games.

And despite the recent losing, Red Wings’ players insist there is plenty to play for on many levels.

“We got to go out there and fight for every inch,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “Even though nothing’s going our way, we’re still paying for pride, playing for our organization and you’re playing for your job, so you have to go out there and continue to play.”

The Wings were beginning to establish an identity of a fast-skating, hard-working team, especially during a hot stretch in November.

But that’s been an issue the last few games, especially an ugly 8-1 loss against Montreal, with the Wings’ not playing with the necessary energy and work ethic.

“When we were playing well for a stretch this season, we were out-working teams,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We haven’t out-worked opponents enough to come back in here and feel good about our play.

“We have to make sure we come out and our details in our game are great, and each individual guy, we have to make sure we’re giving it our all and working through it.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

Red Wings at Avalanche

Faceoff: 9 p.m., Tuesday, Pepsi Center.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Avalanche (28-26-12) have lost two consecutive games and fallen three points out of the wild-card chase…The Wings may have LW Thomas Vanek (hip flexor) and D Trevor Daley (back) back in the lineup...C Nathan MacKinnon and RW Mikko Rantanen both have 82 points and feature in one of the NHL’s top line.