| Detroit Free Press
Dylan Larkin: Detroit Red Wings can’t just let games go by
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin, Feb. 23, 2021.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press
There have been few opportunities for the Detroit Red Wings to build a winning streak this season, and after their latest failed effort they start over when they finish a six-game home stand.
The Wings are having a devil of a time scoring, shutout 2-0 Tuesday by the Nashville Predators, who are at Little Caesars Arena again Thursday. The Wings have gone 1-3-1 during this stretch at home, and have scored just six goals their last four games. More than a third of the way through their season, the Wings (5-13-3) have yet to win consecutive games. They emerged from an emotional weekend with a victory only to fail to record a goal for the second time in four games.
“Everyone out there wants to score, everyone wants to win,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “Everyone wants to do anything they can to help this team win. I wouldn’t say it’s hunger.
“We are playing every other day. You have to not let the games just go by. It just seems like games are going by faster than you realize and you look at the schedule and it’s been 10-12 games since you felt good, or you scored. We have to find a way to get ourselves into every game and not let games just go by. We have to get ourselves into it because there’s not much energy, there’s no fans. You can’t make excuses but you have to find a way to get yourself mentally and physically in the game.”
Coach Jeff Blashill pegged the Wings as having given around 80% — not nearly enough from a team at the bottom of the Central Division standings.
“Our individual players’ execution and battle level wasn’t good enough,” he said. “Across the board, individually, we needed to execute way better.
“We were disconnected as a group of five. For whatever reason, I can’t put my finger on it itself, but our forwards didn’t seem to be connected enough to our D on our breakouts. But I also think our compete level on the puck wasn’t good enough.”
The one power play they had Tuesday didn’t generate anything, but that’s been a defining part of this subpar season — the Wings are 0-for-36 on man advantages going back 13 games. They miss Tyler Bertuzzi terribly; he hasn’t played since Jan. 30 because of an upper-body injury, but even without his grit, there’s a lot of skill: Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Bobby Ryan, Filip Zadina, Robby Fabbri, Vladislav Namestnikov.
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“The power play is so important and when you don’t score on the power play, it’s hard,” Larkin said. “It’s hard for everyone. We have some skilled players. We have to be able to score on the power plays. We have to score in different ways and right now it’s not happening, so we have to keep it simple and try to stay positive, try to stick with it.”
The Wings were fine defensively and structurally. Jonathan Bernier was excellent, and probably will get the start again Thursday. The problem has been executing offensively — and that required more urgency than the Wings showed Tuesday.
“I don’t think we were hungry enough,” Blashill said. “I think this team has been a pretty damn hungry team through lots of the year. We need to make sure we’re at 100% or close to it every night. I don’t think it’s a big issue through the season, but it was an issue tonight.
“The reality of life is that you’re not going to be perfect every night, whether you are a reporter or hockey player. But we need to be as close to perfect as possible to put ourselves in position to win. I think the urgency and the hunger has been there most nights to a large degree.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
Jeff Blashill: Detroit Red Wings’ execution level ‘not good enough’
Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill speaks to the media after the 2-0 loss to the Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press