Detroit — Valtteri Filppula knew what he was getting into when he signed with the Red Wings last summer.
Filppula understood the organization was in a rebuilding situation. It was a far cry from the championship-level teams Filppula was on at the start of his pro career, including the 2008 Stanley Cup championship.
Still, could Filppula or anyone truly expected how this season has gone thus far?
“It’s always tough when you lose a lot, it’s not fun,” Filppula said recently, talking about this difficult season. “But at the same time you want to learn from that, get better and build on something. It’s tough for a while but when it gets better, it’s even better. So hopefully, we can slowly (start) turning the wheels the other way and start getting wins.”
The wins, well, it didn’t happen over the weekend, the Wings losing games in Dallas and Chicago.
In both games, sloppy play with the puck, careless turnovers, and the inability to play 60 consistent minutes proved to be the Wings’ undoing.
The Wings are last in the NHL standings and are likely to the stay there the rest of the season.
“It’s tough, but at the same time, you get the next game fairly soon,” Filppula said after Sunday’s 4-2 loss in Chicago. “You play so many games you can’t be too sad about the game before. Just focus on the next one.
“We’re just trying to win games and feel better about ourselves and get better. Hopefully start winning some games, that’s the main thing right now.”
Filppula, 35, played with Hall of Famers, longtime All-Stars, and veteran players who had long, impactful NHL careers his first time through Detroit (2005-13).
This group is much younger, and not as established.
“The first time around, we had a really good team,” Filppula said. “We have a good team now, as well, we’re just not playing as well as we could. That’s the challenge right now.
“Definitely it’s not going how you want it; it’s tough and taxing, especially mentally. You just have to try to work hard and get out of it.”
There were other options out there in unrestricted free agency, but Filppula doesn’t regret signing the two-year contract worth $6 million last summer after seven season away: four with the Tampa Bay Lightning, two with the Philadelphia Flyers and last season with the New York Islanders.
He’s back with the team that originally drafted him, in an organization he experienced much success, and hopes to again some day.
“When I first left, I didn’t think it would necessarily happen again,” Filppula said. “When the opportunity came (in July), I was real excited about that. It was good to come back home.”
Big steps forward
Filip Zadina was one of the few bright spots Sunday in Chicago, scoring his fourth goal of the season and just missing on several quality scoring chances.
Blashill put Zadina on the ice for the final two minutes after the Wings pulled goaltender Jimmy Howard, in hopes of getting the game-tying goal.
“Filip was playing good, was making some plays, he was managing his game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I like his progress, he’s playing pretty good hockey.
“The goal he scored is a goal that he can score, a goal that (he) will score. He has a real good wrister from that spot. At times, he has a better wrister than he has a one-timer, so when he catches and shoots it, he has a good chance of scoring.
“He’s grown as a player. That’s the positive.”
Canadiens at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
► Outlook: Montreal (18-17-7) needs a surge soon to be considered the playoffs possible. …The Canadiens signed LW Ilya Kovalchuk to hopefully provide offense. …Former Red Wing LW Tomas Tatar (16 goals, 35 points) leads Montreal offensively.