Red Wings hope to halt trend of 'terrible nights' in Montreal

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier stops Canadiens left wing Tomas Tatar during the first period of Detroit's 3-1 loss in Montreal on March 12, 2019.

Detroit – It’s fitting, since Halloween is just around the corner, that the Red Wings are about to enter their own house of horrors.

The Bell Centre in Montreal is one the best rinks in the NHL, filled with nostalgia and tradition.

But for the Red Wings, it’s become a place they simply can’t win in anymore.

The Wings haven’t won a game there in regulation time since Dec. 4, 2007. They have won by overtime or shootout three times over the last 14 games.

In the last two years, the Wings have lost games 10-1 and 7-3 at the Bell Centre. And in both cases, even the lopsided scores didn’t indicate how one-sided the games were.

“We’ve had some terrible nights in there,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s the reality of it. They’ve been painful to endure.”

In both of the blowout losses, the game appeared to snowball out of control for the Red Wings. Montreal took charge of the flow of the game and the Wings couldn’t do anything to reverse it.

“They are a momentum team at home, so we can’t give them anything easy,” Dylan Larkin said. “It seems for us, at the Bell Centre, they’ve been able to score easy and we can’t let that happen.”

If you expand beyond the Bell Centre, the Red Wings haven’t had much success against Canadiens at Little Caesars Arena or Joe Louis Arena.

Overall, the Canadiens have won the last nine games against the Wings.

“It’s a new year, different guys,” Blashill said. “The bigger focus is just playing good hockey.”

Matching up

Opponents surely will be concentrating on the Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha line as the season progresses, and especially if the Larkin line continues to produce offense and no other line on the Wings does.

But Blashill is comfortable in the line’s ability to hold their own against any opponent’s challenge.

“I’m sure coaches will, to the best of their ability, try to match it,” Blashill said. “I wouldn’t run from it unless it was really hurting them. Certainly they’re going to take lots of the best of the defensemen. It’s hard to get away from the defense matchup; the D (defense) can change on the fly.

“The really good lines outplay whoever they’re playing against, and that would be the approach I take with that line. They’re going to be out against good players and have to out play that group.”

Svechnikov waiting

Forward Evgeny Svechnikov is still with the Wings, essentially holding the spot of Frans Nielsen (facial injury).

Whether Svechnikov gets to play in a game remains to be seen.

Svechnikov missed all of last season because of ACL surgery and has only played one game this season with Grand Rapids.

“I take it game by game,” Blashill said. “I’m not necessarily searching to get Svech in a game, but if we think he gives us the best chance to win that night we’ll put him in.

“Svech has only played one game in the last year of real hockey, and maybe a couple exhibition games. It’s a lot to ask. But I’m glad he’s up here.”

Getting closer

Blashill indicated both Nielsen and Trevor Daley could return to the lineup Tuesday in Vancouver.

Both are on the injured list, and Tuesday’s game is the first they’d be eligible to return.

But Blashill was less optimistic about Jonathan Ericsson, who has been hampered with back and lower-body injuries, off and on, since training camp. There is no timetable for Ericsson's return to the roster.

“He’s one I thought would be back by now,” Blashill said. “But he’s had issues with his back, hips, his groin – it’s all kind of intertwined. He just can’t get himself to where he feels great.

“He practiced one day, did a drill, and had to get off the ice. It’s one of those things where you can’t necessarily put a timeline on.”

Red Wings at Canadiens

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Thursday, Bell Centre, Montreal

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 

Outlook: Montreal has won the last nine games overall against the Red Wings. … Former Wings LW Tomas Tatar and D Jeff Petry (Orchard Lake St. Mary/Michigan State) are among a deep and balanced roster. ... The Red Wings begin a unique stretch in which they play seven consecutive games against Canadian  teams, and eight of the next 10.

Twitter: @tkulfan