Detroit Red Wings see path to success: Keep up the effort, improve execution

Detroit Free Press

As they turn their attention to their next game, the Detroit Red Wings have a clear memory of what works.

They improved to 5-3-2 on the strength of a furious effort over the final few minutes of Thursday’s 3-1 victory against the Washington Capitals, when Andrew Copp scored, Ville Husso and the penalty killers nixed a six-on-four advantage, and Dylan Larkin found an empty net with 28 seconds on the clock.

“Those are huge momentum situations,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Our goal is to put ourselves in those type of situations more and more. And we have put ourselves in those situations. And the more you execute and succeed in those situations, it just builds going forward.”

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The Wings play the New York Islanders on Saturday, when the 1998 Stanley Cup team will be celebrated in a pregame ceremony, and then head to New York to play the Rangers on Sunday. The Wings have won four of their six home games this season, able to take advantage of matchups that they can’t get when they have the last change on the road. Copp, buoyed by the confidence of having finally scored 10 games into the season, noted what stood out Thursday.

“The willingness to get in front of shots,” he said. “That was A-plus, how hard we competed, how hard we battled. If we bring that type of effort and we work on our execution, then we can become a really good team in this league, but that work ethic, that comes first.

“Execution-wise, we’ve got a ways to go. We have to be a lot cleaner with the puck, especially breaking out of our zone. That will come with time and more games and more practices, to understand exactly where guys are going to be. When we break up a play defensively, we have to turn to offense quickly, or else we’re passing to no one, kind of. So execution-wise, we have a ways to go, but the effort and willingness — it’s hockey.”

Ville Husso has created some separation in the battle to be the No. 1 goalie, stopping 33 shots against the Capitals. The other area where the Wings won was special teams: Their penalty killers went 4-for-4, and Lucas Raymond scored on a power play.

“When your power play executes, that’s huge momentum,” Lalonde said. “Great effort, penalty kill, we won the special teams battle, our goalie was very good. We’ll take that. That was a good win for us.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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