How one practice in Buffalo spurred Detroit Red Wings to restore their confidence

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings head back on the road for their second multi-game trip this month with a lingering memory of what happened on the last one.

They start a four-game journey Monday at Columbus on a 4-1 roll, built largely at home but begun with little reminder of how quickly things change. Near the end of October, the Wings were feeling really good about themselves after an overtime victory at Washington, but then came an 0-3-1 stretch that made for an introspective day between games the first week of November.

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“We sat in Buffalo and we talked on the ice in practice,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We talked about the week prior — I mean literally, if you had rewound the clock a week from then, we had a ton of confidence and all of a sudden we had not much confidence.”

The restoration began when Tyler Bertuzzi scored twice in the third period Nov. 6 against the Sabres, and Moritz Seider scored in overtime. The Wings came home and beat Vegas and Edmonton, lost to Washington, and won in overtime Saturday against Montreal.

“That third period in Buffalo was huge, how good Tyler played there,” Blashill said. “And we’ve picked up steam from there. I think part of it is, as I’ve said before, we have more guys with ability to make some plays to make a difference in the game, and that’s important. There are a lot of things we need to get better at and we’re going to keep working, but we don’t get enough practice time right now just because we’re trying to conserve energy because of how much we’re playing, but we’ll do our best to get better through film.”

The Wings (8-6-2) play at Dallas on Tuesday, at Vegas on Thursday, and at Arizona  on Saturday. That wraps up a stretch of 14 games in 25 days, including three sets of back-to-backs. They’re 3-4 on the road, but two of those losses were in Canada, where Bertuzzi was not available because of his unvaccinated status.

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How the Wings have rebounded from that early-season dip is encouraging to those who were on the team in 2019-20, when dips so easily became chasms.

“We’ve been a good hockey team at home and we’ve played well on the road at times,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “Through long seasons you’re going to go through stretches where for whatever reasons you’re going to go through tough stretches. Our response has been great. It’s something that the past few years, we haven’t had that response. We haven’t been able to dig ourselves out of holes. Three games has gone to five or seven games.

“We’ve played a lot of hockey these last three weeks. We need to grind it out. We need to get on the road and get in a little rhythm and I think we can do it.”

Contact Helene St. James at 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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