Why Detroit Red Wings say they can still getting a passing grade on trip

Detroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS — Derek Lalonde did the math — aptly, considering he was on a college campus — and came to the conclusion the Detroit Red Wings can still pass.

They need to win their remaining game on this trip, Thursday at the Vegas Golden Knights, after coming out of the first two games with just one point.

“We always want as many points as games on a road trip,” Lalonde said. “Three-game road trip, it’s still right there for us to get three points in three games. We have to stay at it.”

Stay at it has become a grind as another losing skid has grown.

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“It’s tough,” defenseman Jake Walman said. “I’m pissed off, a lot of guys are pissed off. We have to close those games out. Some of those goals would go in in a different game. We just have to bear down and finish those games.”

Walman and Lalonde were reacting after Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss against the Arizona Coyotes, at the 4,600-capacity Mullett Arena that is part of Arizona State University’s campus. Wednesday was a day off, normal procedure after playing twice in two days. Lalonde said, “It 100% stinks” the Wings had to settle for one point after outplaying the Coyotes most of the game.

“I thought the effort was there,” he said. “We could have managed the 3-1 lead a little better, but our effort, three goals on the road, should be enough to win.”

Ville Husso will be back in the net in Vegas; he consistently has given the Wings a chance to win. But it will take more than goaltending for the Wings (18-17-8) to end a three-game winless stretch. They don’t have to go back far, though, for an example: Just one week ago, they played one of their best game of the season to topple the Toronto Maple Leafs. But then came a flat performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets (near the bottom of the NHL standings), a letdown against the Colorado Avalanche (defending champions, trying to secure a playoff spot) and a performance against the Coyotes that should have yielded two points.

“It’s a tough one,” Dylan Larkin said. “We were up, and we should have won that game 5-1. We outplayed them. It’s just being hungry around the net and some of it is luck and some of it is just bearing down. Guys want to score. There’s ways to do it when it’s not going in, and that’s getting around the blue paint, being hard, getting your nose over the puck.

“It’s frustrating. Columbus was frustrating. Going into Colorado was frustrating with some of the calls that went against us. But we know what is ahead of us and what we have to do. I think Newsy will say it — we play like that constantly and clean up some things, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games like that.”

The Wings have won just twice in their past eight games.

“The will and effort is there, but we still have to manage,” Lalonde said. “Not saying we have to be perfect, but we almost have to be perfect to win some of these nights.”

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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