Detroit Red Wings don’t want to be remembered as a team that quit fighting

Detroit Free Press

Moritz Seider sees a path upward for the Detroit Red Wings — or at least he hopes he does.

The rookie defenseman is the top reason the Wings have shown progress this season, though the team’s competitiveness has lagged as a losing streak has grown to five games. The obstacle to ending comes Tuesday in the form of the Edmonton Oilers, a team trying to shore up playoff positioning.

Whoever the opponent, the Wings need to find the moxie that carried them through the first half.

“Our heads are going down once we go down by one or two,” Seider said Monday. “I think it’s a learning process for all of us. If we can stop that and just go back to the basics and set easy goals for the next couple shifts, I think we can drag ourselves out of there as a team. I think we will be doing that for the last stretch.”

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The Wings (24-28-7) were a .500 team as recently as March 1. That doesn’t sound like much in and of itself, but it is for a club that finished last in the NHL two springs ago. Now they’re trying to keep their longest losing streak of this season from growing.

“This team has shown a lot of fight at different times through this season and certainly in the last couple weeks, it hasn’t gone great and some of that fight hasn’t been there,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t want to be remembered for that, this team, I mean. I want this team to be remembered for a team that fought its way through every single game, and then where the chips fall, the chips fall.

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“If you look back to the beginning of the season, though the middle part of the year, our fight was great. We just have to get that fight back regardless of how bad things happen at different times in games.”

A six-point gap from a wild card spot has expanded to 19. The Wings aren’t mathematically eliminated yet, but they’ve played over the past week like they’re emotionally eliminated.

“It’s probably hard just looking back where all the guys are coming from,” Seider said. “I think we are in a much better spot, and I think everyone has really high expectations on themselves and on our team, too, and I think that’s why we probably get frustrated a lot easier during the last couple games. Because we all have that one big goal of making the playoffs and we’re not getting any closer and it’s maybe one of the reasons.”

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There’s been a great deal of emphasis on having a next-shift mentality, to accept that goals-against will happen and not let it eat away at how the Wings have to play to be successful. They don’t have the talent to match elite teams — especially having lost Robby Fabbri to a knee injury last week and being without Tyler Bertuzzi this week because he’s unvaccinated — but in Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Calgary, the Wings couldn’t even point to having put on a good effort until the third period. If effort lacks, it’s going to be a brutal 21 games till the finish line.

“When that light gets dimmer at the end of the tunnel, sometimes frustration sets in,” Blashill said. “I think the biggest thing for us is just understand the perspective. Let’s cherish each game and let’s do the very best we can and see what happens. I do think it’s important to cherish each game and make sure we’re making the most of every single opportunity we have our there, both to enjoy it, to grow and to get better, as an individual and as a hockey team.”

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. 

Next up: Oilers

Matchup: Red Wings (24-28-7) at Edmonton (32-23-4).

Faceoff: 9 p.m. Tuesday; Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta.

TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit Extra; WXYT-FM (97.1).

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