Blame the power play for why the Detroit Red Wings will host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena seeking to start a new winning streak.
They had multiple opportunities Thursday night, including nearly a minute and a half with two extra skaters, but came away emptyhanded. The Wings went 0-for-4 on power plays in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, plus another 1:20 to end the game with an extra attacker after pulling the goaltender. But rather than shoot the puck, the Wings played hot potato with it.
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“They have to look and say they’re going to decide to shoot it,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We’ll work through it as a group. I don’t know if it’s as easy as you and I sit here and say it, in the sense that if you don’t think you have a lane and you shoot it and it gets blocked, you feel like it’s the wrong play. That’s what happens. The reality is, a lot of times a block ends up with chaos, and it’s OK to make them block shots.
“I think getting past that and having more of an attack mentality — we’ll work through it.”
It’s not the first time Blashill has lamented a lack of shooting mentality on the power play units, which feature Moritz Seider, Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, Tyler Bertuzzi and FIlip Zadina on one unit and Nick Leddy, Pius Suter, Robby Fabbri, Filip Hronek and Sam Gagner on the other.
The Wings did not register a shot on net in 6:37 of man-advantage time, which included 1:23 of 5-on-3 play.
“We just didn’t execute, and we weren’t good enough,” Larkin said. “They made it hard for us on the walls and we put pucks there. We didn’t get to the net, we didn’t get it around the net, we didn’t get it up top and we didn’t take enough shots.”
Pressed on how he will get the message through, Blashill asked if the question meant it was something on a game-in and game-out basis that “hasn’t been good enough or it’s something that’s been some games.”
The Wings (7-6-2) have converted eight times on 50 power plays, a 16% success rate that ranks in the NHL’s bottom third.
On the flip side, the penalty kill has been outstanding this week. It held the Oilers, who came into Tuesday’s game with a 50% success rate, scoreless on two opportunities and held the Capitals at bay on four opportunities, including 1:49 of a 5-on-3 advantage. Michael Rasmussen was key to holding Alex Ovechkin without a shot, coming through with a gutsy block on one of the power plays.
“It’s a huge boost,” Larkin said. “I know those guys have been working really hard at it and they battle. They have since day one. We are getting more chemistry with our units that are going out there to penalty kill and it’s showing.; we have to keep going and be ready every night for great power plays.”
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.