Red Wings’ scorers aren’t scoring, complicating severe offensive drought
Detroit – There have been a lot of things ailing the Red Wings this season, some more than others.
Lack of offense has been a problem often, and never more so than in recent games.
The Wings are coming off a four-game road trip in which they scored five goals total. In the 10 games since they’ve returned from the All-Star break, the Wings have scored a grand total of 14 goals.
It’s just not good enough to win – and the Wings obviously haven’t been doing that often (two wins in those 10 games, none in the last four).
“We’re in a stretch right now where we have to find a way out of this,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “Find a way as a team to generate more offensively and have to make sure they go in.”
The Wings have 123 goals – by far the lowest in the NHL. Their goal-differential is an amazing minus-106; Ottawa has the second-worst differential at minus-44.
The Red Wings don’t have an endless list of dynamic offensive players, or players who are pure goal-scorers.
Among the few scorers they do have, all are slumping at the same time currently.
Larkin has two goals in nine games, Tyler Bertuzzi has one in 11, Robby Fabbri has none in eight, Anthony Mantha none since returning from injury four games ago. Andreas Athanasiou is providing a little bit of a spark, with three goals in eight games.
“Guys are gripping their sticks tonight,” said forward Luke Glendening, who is known more for his defense but hasn’t scored in 18 games. “I can speak for myself, it’s been a while. A lot of guys are pressing.”
A big issue is the Wings’ inability to have any sustained time in the other team’s zone. If they do happen to get a shot on net, there’s only one shot usually – and the puck is headed toward the other end of the rink.
“I just don’t think we have enough sustained offense where we’re in the zone and cycling, and creating real looks (offensively),” Larkin said. “We need to wear teams down in the offensive zone.”
Need to regroup
The Wings were off Monday, which may not have been a bad thing. They were outscored 16-5 in the four-game road trip, the Wings’ confidence seemingly eroding with every loss.
Still, coach Jeff Blashill felt Sunday’s 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh had some positives, especially with the quality of scoring chances and time with the puck.
Blashill remains confident the Wings can improve over the final 21 games of the season.
“I didn’t talk to them (after Sunday’s loss); I never talk after losses,” Blashill said. “We’ll see what we have to get better, and we’ll show them that. We’ll see what we did well and try to win a game Tuesday. It’s the same message I’ve had for a while here. We have to keep working to get better.
“We’re either going to take steps forward or we’re going to take steps backward every single day.
“In a lot of ways, although the score (Sunday) doesn’t indicate it, some of you might not think so, there were a lot of things we took steps forward.
“We’re not a confident bunch. Our chances might not equate the same because we’re not scoring at the same rate. All I know is we played better hockey than we have been.”
Blashill had no update after Sunday’s game on Filip Hronek, who left in the second period after taking a slap shot by Pittsburgh’s Marcus Pettersson off the side of Hronek’s helmet.
… Goaltender Jimmy Howard struggled through another outing, including being replaced in the second period after allowing four goals on 16 shots. Howard hasn’t won a game since Oct. 29 against Edmonton and has lost his last 18 decisions.
But Larkin feels the Wings could provide help for Howard, and goaltender Jonathan Bernier, with more offense.
“We only scored one goal,” Larkin said. “We’re leaving the rest to our goaltender and it’s not fair to those guys.”
... There is good news in the minor leagues. Grand Rapids has used a 6-3-1 surge to move into fourth place (and a playoff spot), two points ahead of Rockford, 55-53, in the Central Division.
Canadiens at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Canadiens (27-26-8) are on the edge of the playoff chase, but are likely looking ahead to next season. … The Wings have defeated Montreal all three games this season. … LW Tomas Tatar (21 goals, 32 assists) is having a great season, and is attracting interest on the trade market.