As they head onto Chicago, grateful for the quick arrival of another game, the Detroit Red Wings want to spend less time being shorthanded.
Their penalty kill has been good, but it has also had to be called on numerous times through five games. Time spent in the penalty box was a source of frustration as the Wings explained Saturday’s 6-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens.
“We can’t take offensive zone penalties,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They got some momentum. They played way better than us in the second, and we gave up way too many easy chances. You can’t give up easy chances and expect to win.”
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The Wings (2-2-1) have lost two in a row after gaining points in their first three games. They knew they’d be facing a desperate team in the Canadiens, who lost their first five games. It started well enough when Dylan Larkin converted on a power play in the first period, but Ben Chiarot tied it and Mike Hoffman scored for Montreal while Danny DeKeyser was in the box for tripping. Christian Dvorak made it 3-1 early in the second, and Mathieu Perreault piled on with a natural hat trick on an empty-net goal in the third.
Three of the Wings’ four penalties were in the offensive zone.
“It’s the type of penalties,” alternate captain Marc Staal said. “Sometimes they’re good penalties and you need to make them out of desperation to stop a scoring chance. But we are not taking those types of penalties. We’re taking stick penalties and tripping and needless penalties away from the play. Those will hurt you. It’s definitely something we need to look at.”
The Wings have been shorthanded 20 times, with a penalty kill at 75%.
“I’ve addressed it with our team,” Blashill said. “At the end of the night, we can’t expect to take this many penalties and expect to win.”
The Wings were without top-line forward Tyler Bertuzzi, whose decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine means he cannot travel to Canada under current border restrictions. Blashill sent a message to defenseman Filip Hronek that he has to play better by making him a healthy scratch, inserting Troy Stecher for his first game of the season. But overall, Blashill has liked his defense corps better than the forward group.
“There was lack of execution, and I think our forwards have to play on their ‘A’ game, and we had too many that weren’t,” Blashill said. “They just have to play better. We need as many guys as possible playing near the top of their game.”
The Wings rushed to leave Montreal and fly on to their next stop.
“We don’t have to dwell on this one,” Staal said. “We go to Chicago and go in there and try to learn from our mistakes and get out there and compete again. We need to have a short memory and go into Chicago and compete the way we know how.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.