Jeff Blashill is ‘real proud of’ Detroit Red Wings after Oilers loss. Here’s why

Detroit Free Press

Jeff Blashill liked most of what he saw in the Detroit Red Wings’ latest outing: They rallied from two three-goal deficits after falling behind early.

“Bad things are going to happen and you have to be mentally tough and find a way to grind through it and we did that. You get down 3-0 on the road and you make it 3-1 and it was 4-1,” Blashill said after the Wings’ 7-5 loss Tuesday at the Edmonton Oilers. ” And we just stayed with it. I’m honestly real proud of the way our guys continued to battle and compete and that’s what we have to continue to do moving forward, starting in Vancouver.”

The Wings (24-29-7) wrap up the Canada part of this trip Thursday against the Canucks, and then play their first game at the expansion Seattle Kraken on Saturday. Tyler Bertuzzi is expected to be available for that game; he can’t travel to Canada because he’s not vaccinated for COVID-19.

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The Wings began the trip losing 3-0 at the Calgary Flames, where the biggest positive was Thomas Greiss’ 30-save performance through two periods. But Greiss’ inconsistency was on display in Edmonton, where he gave up three goals on six shots and was gone less than five minutes after he started.

Dating to their last victory (March 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes), the Wings have allowed 33 goals, while scoring 15. But unlike the performance in Calgary, when there was no pushback until the third period, the Wings made it 4-2 by the end of the second period in Edmonton.

“Right now pucks are going in, that’s just the way it is,” Blashill said. “We talked about being mentally tough — I thought we were unreal that way. I’m proud of our guys, real proud of the way our guys worked and competed and played throughout the game. We never slumped at all. It’s tough at the end, you want to find a way to win. I try to judge the process and from a process standpoint, I thought we did lots of good stuff.

“We continued to fight. Can we build off that? For sure.”

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Getting Bertuzzi back will deepen the lineup, though the past two performances have been marked by good performances from some of the bottom-six forwards: Givani Smith, who has played physical and been active with the puck; Michael Rasmussen, who has used his size to screen goalies and been physical around the net; Sam Gagner, who had a goal and an assist in Edmonton; and Adam Erne, who has been noticeably more confident with the puck than earlier in the season.

“Those guys played well, and with confidence,” Dylan Larkin said. “It helps a lot.

“Everyone was going. It took us too long to get going, but when we got going, we were a dangerous team and had them on the ropes.”

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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