What weekend games show about where Detroit Red Wings are in their growth

Detroit Free Press

To extract the good from the weekend, the Detroit Red Wings played physical and were in position to win.To distill the results, they only managed one point out of four available and their power play let them down.

The Wings have time to practice before their next game, Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s the third straight game against a Western Conference opponent, and the Wings are coming off a 0-1-1 weekend excursion at  Nashville and at home against the Dallas Stars.

“Every night is a measuring stick and certainly when you play good teams, you find out a lot about yourself,” coach Jeff Blashill said after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Predators. “In my opinion, we should have won,” Friday and Saturday, “we could have won. It was a fairly even game.”

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The Wings had the lead against the Stars with six minutes to play after Tyler Bertuzzi scored on a power play. But the Stars gambled and pulled their goalie, and were rewarded with a tying goal. They made good on having an extra attacker again in overtime, securing a 5-4 victory while Robby Fabbri stewed over a tripping penalty.

“We have to find ways to win,” Blashill said. “I’ve talked about this before — we’ve done a little better job of that, but we have to keep going.”

Nowhere does this apply more than to the power play. The Wings had six minutes with a man advantage the first 22 minutes in Nashville, and spent almost all of it running around chasing the puck. A fourth power play, early in the third period, looked better, even as Bertuzzi wasn’t available because he was serving penalties dating to the last minute of the second period for fighting and slashing Matt Benning.

The Wings gambled and pulled their goalie with nearly four minutes to go, but again came up short having an extra skater on the ice. And unlike Friday, when the Wings couldn’t capitalize on an empty Stars net, the Predators capitalized on an empty Wings net to put the game away.

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The Wings have a 14.8% on power plays, 30th in the NHL.

“We had scored five of last seven games, so had some momentum,” Blashill said. “I know our zone entries have gotten way better as the year has gone along, so we are improving there. We are one of the worst teams in the league at losing the first faceoff on the power play and I thought over the last couple games it had been much better. We had found ways even when we lost it to win the puck and stay in the zone.

“It could have been the difference in the game and it wasn’t.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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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