Red Wings hopeful day off will prove beneficial as rugged stretch approaches

Detroit News

Detroit — Maybe a day off will help the Red Wings.

After a loss Thursday against Winnipeg in which the Wings looked a bit fatigued at times, coach Jeff Blashill decided to make Friday a complete day off.

No work on the ice or in the weight room. No meetings. No coming down to Little Caesars Arena, at all.

It was likely needed.

“Sometimes fatigue shows up in your physical play in terms of how your legs feel, and sometimes it shows up mentally,” Blashill said. “The reality is we have to find ways to be better when we are potentially fatigued. We have to find ways to make sure we don’t make mental mistakes in those types of situations.”

During the recent West Coast trip, the Wings’ game in Anaheim Jan. 6 was rescheduled to Jan. 9 because of a COVID outbreak within the Ducks.

The Wings originally had a schedule where they had days off between games. After the rescheduled game in Anaheim was put in place, the Wings have three games in four days, four games in six days and six games in 10 days after they play Monday in Buffalo.

It’s a particularly rugged stretch, and one that eliminates any quality practicing, which can be an issue.

“The difficult part when you don’t practice is potentially you lose your structure and some of your habits,” Blashill said. “You’re not able to touch on as many bases as you’d like.”

Compound a current four-game winless streak, and 1-4-2 record since returning from holiday break, and you can see how a team’s confidence and rhythm has been impacted.

“Rhythm and confidence comes from playing real good hockey,” Blashill said. “So confidence, ultimately, comes from the results of winning, but also knowing you can put yourself in that position.

“When you lose games and you know you dominated the game, it doesn’t shake you. But when you lose games and you feel you got outplayed … it can shake you a little bit.

“We had a number of mental mistakes in the last game against Winnipeg. We gave up a number of two-on-ones, gave as many as you’d like to see give up in a season. We got fortunate in a number of them. But we have to make sure we’re not making those kind of mental mistakes and giving easy chances away.”

Improving Sabres

Buffalo came into Saturday’s game with one of the weaker records in the NHL (11-19-6) but are coming off an impressive 4-1 victory Thursday in Nashville.

“They (the Sabres) played good, they were the better team in the first (period) and did a good job (the rest of the night), and (goaltender) Aaron Dell played well,” said Blashill, noting Buffalo also got back forwards Alex Tuch and Tage Thompson in the last two games. “Those are important pieces for them, both good players back in the lineup for sure. Both games we’ve played against them have been real close.

“We have to play our best hockey.”

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Twitter: @tkulfan

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