Goal-scoring issues plague punchless Red Wings on failed road trip

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Oilers left wing Jujhar Khaira (16) tries to control the puck as Red Wings center Luke Glendening (41) defends during the second period Friday in Edmonton.

Detroit — If you have had your attention focused on football the past week, and whatever other variety of sports going on, you might not have been entirely watching or caring about the Red Wings.

Playing in western Canada, when most people are heading to sleep, will do that.

Let’s just say you didn’t miss much.

They’ve returned home losing all three games, extending their losing streak to four, and in the midst of a goal-scoring drought.

Remember that opening weekend, when the Wings scored nine goals in two games, both victories, and the  No. 1 line (Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha) was dominant, and the hockey season had unexpected promise?

They had 14 goals total while going 3-1 in the schedule’s first four games.

That seems weeks ago.

A losing streak, getting blown out in two of the three losses on the road trip, and trying to figure out how this team will generate offense are questions that have taken over.

The lack of scoring — one goal in each of the three losses in western Canada — certainly isn’t a good thing.

In all, the Wings have scored five goals in the last four losses.

“In the end, we haven’t scored enough, that’s for sure,” coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after Friday’s loss.

The Larkin line notched a mind-boggling 16 points in the first two games, an obvious rate it wasn't going to sustain.

Still, only nine points in the last six games isn’t good enough, either.

The continued slumps out of Andreas Athanasiou and Taro Hirose aren't helping offensively, either.

Athanasiou missed the first two games with an undisclosed injury. But since returning, he has one point (an assist) in six games.

Hirose hasn’t been much better. Expected to be a catalyst on the second line along with Athanasiou, Hirose only has two points (both assists) in eight games and has too often been a non-factor.

Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen and Adam Erne have combined for two points (two assists from Filppula), in a combined 20 games, with a minus-11 rating.

The lack of offense shows on the power play, as well.

As of Sunday, the Wings ranked 26th in the NHL on the power play, with an anemic 9.5 percent success rate (2-for-21).

If there was a positive Friday in Edmonton, it was the fact the Wings didn’t wilt, as they did the previous two losses in Vancovuer and Calgary, once those teams took control.

The Wings had some prime chances to tie the score, or go ahead, but were thwarted by, at this point, the best team in the NHL (7-1-0).

 “Here’s what I liked,” Blashill said. “We got down 2-0, we talked about not melting when we were down 2-0, (and) we kept digging and we found a way to make it 2-1.

“And then we had the better of the chances in the third period. We had a couple shifts where we got stuck in our end a little bit, but overall, we had the better of the chances and we gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game.”

With four of the next five games at Little Caesars Arena – and the only road game at lowly Ottawa — the Wings have an opportunity to reverse this latest slide.

They’re hoping to carry over the end of that Edmonton game.

“Even though the result wasn’t there, it was confidence building where we know when we play our game — and we didn’t even play our best (Friday) — but when we play our game, at times, we’re up there with the hottest team in the league,” Larkin said.


Twitter: @tkulfan