“We care about each other,” alternate captain Marc Staal said. “It’s reactionary — when you see one of your teammates get hurt, we are going to stick up for each other. We’re going to compete hard and if it gets chippy and scrummy, that’s just the way it’s going to be, if teams are going to liberties with us like that.
“You’re seeing pretty early that we’re pretty tight in the room. You do something to one of us and it affects all of us and we’re all going to jump and stick up for each other. We’ll continue to play that way. You’re going to win more times than not if you get that kind of intensity.”
PROTECTING THE CAPTAIN: Red Wings are ‘pissed off’ on Dylan Larkin’s behalf
The Wings are 1-0-1 going into Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, earning a 3-1 victory Saturday in a resilient performance against the Vancouver Canucks. The Wings had to make do without Dylan Larkin, who was suspended for retaliating against a hit from behind that officials didn’t call — just like they didn’t call a penalty when Larkin was injured by Dallas’ Jamie Benn in April.
Filip Zadina briefly left Saturday’s game in the third period after getting elbowed in the head by Conor Garland. A scrum ensued, and while ultimately the Wings did not come away with a power play, it was good to see Michael Rasmussen and Filip Hronek defend the transgression.
“I appreciate how the boys did for me,” Zadina said. “It’s huge how they stood up for me. We have each other’s back. It’s making us a really good team.”
Zadina described what happen: “A midget like he is, it’s pretty normal. I don’t think he’s strong enough to battle me in the corner one-on-one. Stupid hit.”
Zadina — who is 6 feet to Garland’s 5-10 — described what happened: “A midget like he is, it’s pretty normal. I don’t think he’s strong enough to battle me in the corner one-on-one. Stupid hit.”
The Wings are trying to find the balance between standing up for themselves and each other, without it costing them two points. Thursday they were up 6-3 on the Lightning, but let emotions fester and wound up ruing a 7-6 overtime loss.
“What happened in the first game, when we gave up two three-goal leads, it’s not something we wanted to repeat,” Staal said. “I thought we were smarter with the puck, we were more composed with it. We just did things to win a hockey game. It was a much better effort in that regard than the first one.”
It’s been a recurrent trend over the past few seasons for the Wings, to show opponents they won’t put up with cheap shots. Coach Jeff Blashill pointed to Larkin’s frustration over the lack of repercussions for Benn from the league as a guiding factor in Larkin punching Mathieu Joseph in the face after Joseph checked Larkin into the boards. Larkin was ejected from the game.
To see another teammate felled Saturday galled.
“We have to look after each other, for sure,” Blashill said. “There’s always a balance between looking out for each other and keeping your emotional control and we teetered on the edge a little it. I understand why. When you see your teammate get hit in the head like that, it’s a natural response. We have to look after each other, and we have to care about each other and we have to find ways to make sure we’re sticking up for each other. And then you have to do that within the context of winning a hockey game. We had conversations on the bench to say, listen, we have to focus on winning the game. They were good about it.
“When you have a chip on your shoulder, sometimes things like this happen. That’s fine. We want to make sure we’re playing with that highly competitive nature. That’s the way we’re going to be successful. You only win when you really care about each other. We want to be a unit that comes every single day and fights together and wins together.”
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.