Jeff Blashill pointed out a truth about the Detroit Red Wings that will stand past the trade deadline; it’s also one which doesn’t bode particularly well for the last 20 games.
“Monday, the deadline will be over, but we’re going to have a whole bunch of the same guys here,” he said after yet another disappointing start led to a disappointing finale to a disappointing trip.
STEVIE Y’S DEALS: How Wings’ recent rough stretch impacts Yzerman at trade deadline
The Wings (25-30-7) returned home Sunday morning on a red-eye from Seattle, digesting a 4-2 loss to one of the worst teams in the NHL, leaving the Wings with seven losses in their past eight games.
“In the three games prior to this, there were things we could build off,” Blashill said. “We just can’t come out and not be ready to go. It’s too many times start-wise. This was, for me, closer to Arizona and the games like that. Even the Calgary one, we had opportunities. We’ve got guys that have to play better.”
Sam Gagner described the loss as basically wasting a good effort from goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who made 38 saves.
“You try and treat every game as an opportunity to win,” Gagner said. “We got a win in Van., we played really well. I thought we played well in Edmonton for a really good portion of that game. It was a disappointing finish to the trip.”
Steve Yzerman instituted one change Sunday afternoon, trading underperforming defenseman Troy Stecher to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2022 seventh-round pick. Other pending unrestricted free agents include Gagner and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Nick Leddy and Marc Staal, and goaltender Thomas Greiss. So-called “rental players” are always in play at the deadline, though some guys, like Gagner and Staal, would seem to have more value to the Wings than what general manager Steve Yzerman could gain in a trade. Leddy was held out of the last two games of the trip as protection against risk of injury, indicating he’s likely to be moved.
“The position we’re in, it’s certainly on guys’ minds,” Gagner said. “I won’t lie about that But it’s out of your control for the most part. We have a day off and don’t play till after the deadline. It will be nice to have it over with and just focus on playing.”
The Wings play at home Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wings haven’t won consecutive games since beating the Flyers in a home-and-home in mid-February. In the month since, the Wings have gone 3-9-1. Nedeljkovic and Greiss went through rough patches, the Wings haven’t had any jump at the start of games, and Blashill has, as he did again Saturday, pointed to the Wings being out-competed.
“We don’t have any room for error,” he said. “We had too many guys not ready to win puck battles and play at that real high level you have to. We had too many guys not be good enough.”
Whatever happens by the deadline, the Wings will largely be intact come Tuesday. The hopes of making the playoffs are all but mathematically over, but if they don’t regain some measure of competitiveness, they can start worrying about what changes Yzerman will make in the offseason.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.