Red Wings yearn for stronger net presence after St. Louis struggles

Detroit News

Denver — The Red Wings aren’t winning many games on the road. They won’t win many if they continue to play like they did Thursday in a 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

The Wings struggled in several areas.

Most disappointing was their inability to get to the Blues’ net and create havoc i front of inexperienced goalie Charlie Lindgren.

“We didn’t play horribly,” said forward Robby Fabbri, who scored both Wings goals. “We gave up some things but we worked and sustained some pressure in the offensive zone.

“We just didn’t get enough bodies at the net.”

That was the stark difference between the Blues and the Wings.

More: Red Wings’ Namestnikov enjoying increase in offensive production

The bigger, physical Blues parked themselves often in front of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and made life difficult. Nedeljkovic was pulled after two periods.

Blues forward Dakota Joshua (Dearborn) had two assists and was one of many Blues forwards disrupting down low.

The Wings, on the flip side, didn’t do so nearly enough.

“They were harder at the net, and they had a better net presence than us,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s the one thing if you look at all their goals, they did a real good job at the net. We lost our game a little bit in the third, especially in our zone on a couple of big breakdowns.

“(But) we couldn’t find ways to create good enough chances, because not enough net presence.”

The home loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday was similarly eye-opening.

The Predators set a tone of using their big bodies. That led to a 5-2 loss Detroit.

Nashville’s physical style left an impression on the Wings.

“Every time we got into their zone, we were getting mauled,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “They beat the crap out of us down low. Their defense made it hard to get to the net and get shots and get in the slot.”

“It’s something to learn from.”

The lesson hasn’t quite registered yet.

Mixed emotions

Fabbri was pleased to score two more goals, giving him eight for the season (three against his former team, the Blues).

But the evening would have been a lot sweeter had the Wings earned a victory.

“A win would have felt a lot better in this building, against that team,” Fabbri said. “We’ll get another shot at it next year and try to win in this building.”

Fabbri has been a good fit replacing Tyler Bertuzzi (while Bertuzzi is on the COVID-19 protocol list) on a line with Larkin and Lucas Raymond.

“He’s done a good job,” Blashill said. “When you play on that line, you probably will get a bump in ice time and it gives him more. Fabs has played extremely hard all year. He’s done a good job with us in terms of how hard he’s played. I’ve been happy with Fabbs’ game through most of the year.

“He knows how to score, so it’s good that he got rewarded. We’re going to need him to continue to play well.”

Road warrior

In 13 road games, rookie Lucas Raymond has 16 points, with five goals and 11 assists.

Raymond has five goals and three assists, for eight points, in 14 games at Little Caesars Arena.

Raymond set up both of Fabbri’s goals in St. Louis, each with a deft and smart passing, sparking an otherwise ragged Wings’ offensive showing.

Blashill couldn’t explain the disparity in offense, home and away, for Raymond. But the coach is more than pleased with the rookie’s continued development.

“He has the ability to make plays in critical moments, and in those moments (Thursday), he played real good,” Blashill said. “But I wouldn’t say that’s how I judge it necessarily (Raymond’s points production). I can’t sit here and tell you that his road game has been way better than his home game.

“It probably speaks to the fact that even with unfavorable matchups (on the road) he can still produce offense, which is certainly a good sign.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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