Red Wings say accountability still exists amid losing spell

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Anthony Mantha

Detroit – The losing has been hard, and you get the sense the Red Wings players feel pressure to win some games soon.

Coach Jeff Blashill and his staff understand the situation, as well. They’re paid to win games.

Despite losing 10 of their last 11 games entering Monday’s game, everyone insists accountability still exists.

“You keep teaching, you keep holding them accountable, to executing the systems, certainly effort,” said coach Jeff Blashill, whose future with the Wings is becoming cloudy in the estimation of many oddsmakers because of this losing spell.

Blashill noted the specialty teams as a key reason for the Wings’ poor start.

Entering Monday’s games, the Wings ranked 25th on the power play (14 percent) and 28th on the penalty kill (70.2 percent). Those numbers aren’t going to garner many victories by any team.

“You look where your issues are, and you work to correct those issues,” Blashill said. “That’s the reality we’re at.”

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Anthony Mantha insists players are still committed to what the coaching staff is preaching and know this season can be turned around.

“It’s hard but we’ve played good hockey against great teams,” Mantha said. “You look at the first game against Nashville, we came up on top, and a victory (Monday) could get us going again.

“We need to figure it out quick. If we don’t, by Christmas we’re not going to be in the playoff hunt. Everyone knows it.”

Top line reunited

Blashill reunited the line of Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, which had so much success early this season, including a huge opening night victory over Nashville.

Blashill had dropped Mantha onto a line with Valtteri Filppula and struggling Andreas Athanasiou in recent games.

Mantha, who scored two goals Friday in Carolina, was excited about skating with Bertuzzi and Larkin again.

“We had chemistry early on,” Mantha said. “ (Blashill) wanted to try a couple of different lines the last couple of games. It didn’t really work the way we wanted. But us three as a line, we’ve done great things this year and hopefully we can get it going again.”

Injury update

Defensemen Mike Green and Trevor Daley were to be out for Monday night’s game against the Predators.

Blashill said Green was dealing with an illness and would miss a second consecutive game. Blashill was quick to point out this illness had nothing to do with the virus that cost Green most of last season.

Daley was hurt during Saturday’s game in Florida but did skate Monday morning. Joe Hicketts replaced Daley in the lineup.

With Danny DeKeyser (lower body), Daley and Green all out, it’s a very young defensive group for the Wings.

“We’re asking a lot out of a number of guys, but that’s the reality of the situation,” Blashill said. “I also think those guys want minutes. If you want the minutes then you have to go out and execute at a high level every single night.

“That’s a trained thing, and it takes time, it takes understanding how to manage the game. As a defenseman, they’ll just keep continuing that learning process.”

Message delivered

Blashill gathered his players at one point before the morning skate and delivered a clear message: Last weekend wasn't good enough, but it’s time to move on.

Blashill was not happy with the lack of pushback from the Wings after falling behind in Florida.

"Basically, that we didn't show up this weekend," Mantha said, in describing Blashill’s message. "That we started cheating for offense in Carolina. We have four games this week and he said, 'Let's just start tonight and try to win all four.' That gets us back in it and gets the guys going."

Twitter: @tkulfan