Red Wings look to end losing streak before it begins

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There’s a pattern here the Red Wings should best try to avoid.

After the Red Wings opened the season winning three of their first four games — remember those glory days? — they followed with an eight-game winless streak.

The Red Wings saw their short-lived two-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Los Angeles Kings.

They defeated Edmonton to end that losing streak, but immediately followed with a four-game winless streak.

Then a three-game win streak, followed by a staggering 12 consecutive losses.

And, just last week, a two-game win streak which ended that disastrous run — followed by Sunday’s drab 4-2 loss to Los Angeles.

So there’s been a pattern. A terrible one, concerning the Red Wings. And one they don’t want to revisit Tuesday against Columbus, not wanting to add to another lengthy losing streak.

“It’s hard obviously,” said forward Anthony Mantha, with the remnants of that 12-game losing streak are still alive. “The confidence is affected everywhere in the room right now. Just little plays that usually bounce our way are not bouncing our way right now.

“It’s hard, but we need to keep focusing, need to go back to basics, and it’s hard to say it but we need to have fun.

“Right now, the guys aren’t having that much fun, and having fun is a key.”

The Wings played listlessly, without any real energy, Sunday. Part of that could be because of an illness that’s been working its way through the Wings’ locker room, with Blashill estimating about half the lineup Sunday was slowed at least, partially, due to feeling less than ideal.

“There’s no doubt we had zero energy last night for a multitude of reasons,” Blashill said. “We need to get to our energy level back. No. 2, what we do have after that (Tuesday’s game against Columbus) is two practices and the one thing in a lot of those stretches when we lost a lot of games is we (didn’t have practice time).

“What happens in this league is you build your structure and great habits through practice. When you go through a lot of stretches where you don’t practice at all, it’s hard. We’re not a team that can afford that. We have to be great in those areas.”

Blashill switched from a full-scale, on-ice practice Monday to more of an off-ice workout, with players able to go on the ice if they chose that route.

The hope is the Wings will have more energy against the Blue Jackets.

“We’ve gone through stretches where we’ve played pretty good and still lost, but then it kind of snowballs,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we nip this in the bud fast, come out and have a great effort on Tuesday.”

Said forward Justin Abdelkader: “We have to come out with an edge and urgency. The game comes down to winning one-on-one battles all over the ice. I don’t think we did a good enough job of that.”

Flu bug

Blashill estimates up to five Red Wings’ players were severely affected by flu-like symptoms against the Kings, while about half the team simply wasn't feeling great.

Blashill himself is fighting that “knives in your throat” condition, which has been draining.

“It’s an issue right now, we had no energy last night, that’s just the reality of it,” Blashill said. “We had guys take some IV’s before the game and you could tell they had nothing (energy-wise). As much as you want to be able to not let that bother you, it’s the reality of how you feel. Everybody goes through it during the course of the year, and we’re going through it right now.

“There’s a flu going around, and between the flu and an upper-respiratory thing, we’ve taken as many precautions as our training staff has, but it’s just part of it.”

Ice chips

Defenseman Trevor Daley (lower body) didn’t play against Los Angeles, but was on the ice Monday and Blashill felt Daley would be available against Columbus.

… Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson suffered a nose injury against Los Angeles and his availability is unknown.

… Goaltender Jimmy Howard (lower body) will not be ready for Tuesday, but is getting closer. Blashill said there’s a chance Howard will go to Grand Rapids for a brief conditioning stint before rejoining the Red Wings.

Blue Jackets at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Blue Jackets (12-14-6) have struggled after losing five key free agents over the summer. … Offense has been an issue (29th, 2.47 goals per game), as has consistent goaltending. … Former Red Wing LW Gustav Nyquist (13 assists, 20 points) and D Seth Jones (17 points) have been key players.

Twitter: @tkulfan