Why the Detroit Red Wings are desperate for urgency in first trip to Canada in 20 months

Detroit Free Press

Call it desperation, as their captain did, or urgency, as the coach prefers: The Detroit Red Wings need to pack it when they go to Canada for the first time in nearly 20 months.

They face a winless team Saturday in the Canadiens, and travel to Montreal smarting after flunking their assignment against a winless team, lacking emotion and execution in a 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames.

“They hadn’t won yet,” Dylan Larkin said. “They were desperate. They were way more desperate than we were. Montreal is the same way. Chicago is the same way. We’ve got these two games this weekend coming up. We can’t look past Montreal, but we have to be ready to go.”

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The Wings won’t have their top scorer because Tyler Bertuzzi, who refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine, cannot travel to Canada under current border regulations. The plan is for him to take a car service and join his team Sunday for the game against the Blackhawks.

Saturday marks the first time the Wings will have played in Canada since Feb. 29, 2020, because the pandemic forced a reorganization that allowed for play only within divisions, with all Canadian teams in their own division.

Thursday’s loss ended a four-game homestand at 2-1-1. The Canadiens also lost Thursday, 4-1, to the Carolina Hurricanes to drop to 0-5-0.

“It’s our first road game,” Larkin said. “They’re going to be fighting and scratching and clawing for everything they get. We have to go in there with the same attitude and be more desperate, or match their desperation.”

The 26-15 edge in shots the Wings had after two periods didn’t reflect the game; they didn’t get enough quality chances on Jacob Markstrom.

“Until late in game, we don’t get enough pucks through and keep it really simple,” Larkin said. “We really had to just crowd the net and find ways to get the puck through and find ways to score a greasy one.

“The first three games were emotional. We didn’t have that emotion. You are not going to have it every night in the NHL. It’s 82 games. It’s hard. But when we don’t have our legs and our emotion, we have to find a way to simplify and play a better hockey game.”

The Wings can take encouragement from having played well in their first three games; they only need to look to Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets for video of how to execute. They need to look to the first two games to find something positive about their power play, which has gone 0-for-7 the last two games.

As for energy, Blashill said that has to come from within.

“It’s up to every individual guy to come with that level of energy and urgency,” he said. “I like the word urgency better than desperate. We’ve got to have that urgency from the drop of the puck, so it’s up to us to decide that that’s what we’re going to have.”

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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