Struggling Red Wings crave turnaround, confidence-bolstering Blues streak

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Sunrise, Fla. — Right about this time last season Robby Fabbri and the rest of the St. Louis Blues were about to go on a season-altering stretch of hockey.

Fabbri, now with the Red Wings, has lived a life of hockey extremes over the last six months, or so.

Then with the Blues, Fabbri experienced the Blues go from worst in the NHL standings in early January to unexpectedly winning the Stanley Cup in June.

Now, after a trade to the Wings in November, Fabbri finds himself on the last-place team in the NHL again —  this time, the Wings.

“Confidence, confidence is huge,” said Fabbri, of what the Wings currently need. “In a game, getting a goal against or a bad call or something like that, it kind of brings the morale down, and that’s something that’s been creeping in a little bit. That’s tough in our situation when it’s been going that way.

“Putting a good stretch of games together to get that confidence, for the guy next to you, (we can) start feeling ourselves a bit and take that into every game.”

It’s difficult to imagine the Red Wings going on a similar run the Blues did. Impossible, even.

The Blues were constructed to be a Stanley Cup contender last season but faltered the first half of the season, resulting in a coaching change.

More:Red Wings’ season gets more difficult: Anthony Mantha out at least one month

Craig Berube took over behind the bench, the attitude and confidence of the team changed, and the veteran roster charged into the playoffs.

“I’m not going to say it’s going to happen every year or something like that,” Fabbri said. “With the group here, to get some good outcomes and get a good stretch of games to put together, we’ll feel good about ourselves going game to game, and anything can happen.

“Last year (in St. Louis) it was a bit of getting a little mojo and getting that vibe in the room, and once we started putting a few wins together, that kind of jump-started us right after the break.”

Flickering Lightning

The Red Wings visit Tampa on Sunday, facing a Lightning team the Wings have had precious little success against.

Almost no success, actually, for over four years.

The Wings enter Sunday’s game having lost 15 consecutive regular-season games to the Lightning. The Wings last defeated Tampa in the regular season on Nov. 3, 2015.

Still, this Lightning team has appeared mortal this season, after being dramatically eliminated in a first-round, four-game sweep to Columbus after finishing with the NHL’s best regular-season record.

Tampa ended this week’s holiday break outside of the playoff picture by two points — although with two games in hand.

Blashill and Tampa coach Jon Cooper are longtime friends, but they haven’t talked extensively about the Lightning’s struggles.

“I’ve talked to him, and sometimes it’s about hockey and sometimes about other stuff,” Blashill said. “I’ve got my own worries, so we don’t get too deep into his worries.

“They’re playing pretty good hockey over the last little bit.”

Shrug it off

One thing Blashill wants the Wings to be stronger at heading into the second half of the season is shaking off opposing goals.

In recent games, the Wings have slumped after falling behind.

“The one test we have to pass better than we have recently is when we get scored on, we can’t let it bother us as much as it has,” Blashill said. “When I watch our games back, we play good hockey until we are scored on, and then we seem to play bad hockey as the game goes along.

“We’re letting one goal feel like 10, and that can’t happen.”

Red Wings at Lightning

Faceoff: 7 p.m., Sunday, Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Lightning (18-13-4) haven’t been as unbeatable as they were last season, but remain a formidable opponent…They’ve defeated the Wings 15 consecutive times in the regular season…RW Nikita Kucherov (27 assists, 40 points), D Victor Hedman (32 points) and G Andrei Vasilevskiy (15-9-2, .908 SVS) highlight a deep roster.

Twitter: @tkulfan