Detroit Red Wings seem to have figured out the formula for them to win

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Red Wings seem to have figured out what it takes for them to win. Now they have to prove they can do it in consecutive games.

They face a weekend series against the Chicago Blackhawks fresh off a confidence-boosting 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, winning for the second time in three games. The five goals scored were a season high, and one short of their output over the previous four games. That may not sound all that impressive, but for a team that’s 6-13-3, it’s a step in the right direction.

“We see where we are in the standings, which is frustrating, but a win like this can help the confidence hopefully, and get us moving forward a little bit,” alternate captain Luke Glendening said. “We have to keep the momentum going where we can, but we also have to reset and get our minds right in terms of we have to come and work and compete hard. That’s going to set the tone for the next game.”

Glendening contributed the first goal. Sam Gagner finally had something to show for his hard work, earning a hat trick, and Adam Erne also scored. The power play was no good, going 0-for-3 to extend the drought to 0-for-40 since Jan. 28, but to get such prolific scoring from secondary sources was huge.

“It certainly felt good,” Gagner said. “We’ve been pushing as a group to find something to feel good about it. It’s nice to get a win. Hopefully, we can keep building on it.

“We’ve done a good job at times of playing really solid and not getting results. We found a way to get a win. You just have to keep coming to work and playing the same way. Eventually it does turn. It’s hard some nights, but you have to keep pushing for it.”

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Bobby Ryan set up Gagner’s first two goals. Both had been creating changes, and were due for points.

“You look at the first one, he does a great job of hunting the puck down and getting it to me,” Gagner said. “Even on the second, he does a really good job of recognizing I have a lane and leaving it for me. He’s been really good for us. Definitely nice to get rewarded.”

Jonathan Bernier continued his claim to the starting job, making 37 saves. He was especially key at the start, when the Predators surged. But it was a fairly sound game overall for the Wings; they competed, their structure was solid, and they scored. They’d been shutout, 2-0, in two of their previous three games.

“As we’ve talked when we were playing fairly good and losing close games, you need wins to reinforce the belief that you are doing the right thing,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think when you constantly put yourself in position to win hockey games, if you never win, it’s hard to stay with it. You need that reinforcement at some point.

“It’s big for confidence, there’s zero doubt about it. Over the stretch of the season, if you take out the stretch where we have five guys with COVID and maybe those couple games when they returned, we’ve played pretty good hockey. We’ve been a fairly hard team to play against. We just have to continue to be a hard team to play against.”

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The Wings are 0-3-1 against the Blackhawks, but two of those games have been those close losses Blashill referenced. The Wings have yet to win consecutively 22 games into the season, but they’re showing progress.

“I think our guys have gained an understanding of the formula it takes to win,” Blashill said. “It’s great compete, great work and great structure. If we do those things, we put ourselves in position to win. We are going to have to do it Saturday, and that will be the consistent message.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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 AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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Jeff Blashill: Detroit Red Wings have gained understanding of how to win

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, Feb. 25, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

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