After call out, Detroit Red Wings finally see reason to be encouraged on the road

Detroit Free Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The way to San Jose presented itself as a bit more encouraging to the Detroit Red Wings after their latest performance on the road.

As veteran defenseman and alternate captain Marc Staal put it after Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss at the Ducks, “we’re trying to change the tide on the road and that’s something we need to do to be where we want to be. We just have to take the good and go into San Jose with some confidence and try to finish this road trip off with a win.”

The Wings (16-16-4) are 0-1-1 on the trip, but they buoyed themselves with a significantly better performance offensively and defensively against the Ducks than in Saturday’s 4-0 loss at the Kings, where a 27-2 first-period shot deficit “was embarrassing,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

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Blashill was much more pleased with the details of Sunday’s game.

“Our second was excellent,” he said. “That’s how we have to play to be successful, we have to hound, we have to be in their end. We did a good job with that. We were down in the third and found a way to tie it. Those are positives, things we can grow from.

“I certainly think we had opportunities to win the hockey game. We did enough good things to be in position to get the two points.”

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One of the more encouraging takeaways for the Wings is their power play converted for the first time since Dec. 14.

The Wings played most of the game without Dylan Larkin after he incurred an upper-body injury (Blashill expected to have more information on Larkin’s status Monday). The rest of the group did a good job stepping up and masking the loss.

Staal had called out the Wings after the Kings loss, saying in the locker room they had a habit of letting the foe dictate the tempo on the road. The first five minutes against the Ducks weren’t very good, but after that, the Wings appeared to take Staal’s criticism to heart.

“It’s more just a mindset, a mentality,” he said. “We get into a wait and see mode when we get on the road instead of just playing our game like we do at home. It’s tough to win on the road and it’s something we have to learn as a team to do. Your mentality needs to be that you’re going to be the aggressor, you’re going to play your game and make them adjust to you.”

The Wings play the Sharks on Tuesday, one week after beating them 6-2, at Little Caesars Arena.

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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