Inability to gain any traction leaves Red Wings stuck in middle

Detroit News

Detroit — Try as they might, the Red Wings just can’t generate any traction.

They haven’t been able to string together a winning streak, accumulate consistent points for the standings, and make a spirited run toward the playoffs.

But the Wings just continue to win and lose at equal intervals. Saturday’s 2-1 loss against Philadelphia was the latest chapter, nullifying Thursday’s impressive victory in Las Vegas.

“We certainly feel we played good enough to win (Saturday),” captain Dylan Larkin said. “The effort level is not the issue. It’s just when we are on our game, we have to capitalize, we have to make teams pay. We’re up 3-1 in Arizona (Tuesday) and we don’t put it away (4-3 shootout loss). We had chances (Saturday), we just don’t put it away.

“We need to start. That’s the maturing and growing as a team. We need to find ways to put teams away.”

The Wings entered Sunday’s games with 46 points, seven away from Pittsburgh and the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. But the Wings were also only three points ahead of Montreal (43), currently in last place in the Atlantic Division.

That speaks to the logjam that is the Eastern Conference, but also how difficult it is to judge the Wings’ current state.

In the last week, the Wings have lost games to Arizona (29th in NHL) and Columbus (32nd), along with the up-and-down Flyers, games that could haunt them when the season comes to an end.

They’ve also beaten Vegas, one of the top teams in the Western Conference. The Wings have defeated Tampa Bay twice, and a powerful Toronto team.

But the Wings have yet to win more than three consecutive games. Although they haven’t gone beyond three games without earning a point, also.

“We put three pretty good periods (Saturday), and we put a ton of good hockey together (lately, but) our outcomes are up and down,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “It’s probably where we’re at.”

Stinging loss

The Red Wings and Flyers were 0-0 until midway in the third period, when the Flyers finally broke through. And did so again, four minutes later.

“It hurts,” Larkin said. “It really stings that we were right there and two mistakes and it’s in the back of our net and we’re down. We played pretty good, we generated and got looks. Two or three times it (the puck) bounces by the post, it goes off his (goaltender Carter Hart‘s) shoulder. The one at the end off his pad.

“We were around it. If get the first one, that would have been huge, the way the game was going, the physicality of the game, how tight it was. If we get one, we’re probably having a different discussion.”

Lalonde gave plenty of credit to Hart, who made a pad save on Lucas Raymond with three seconds left in regulation that preserved the Flyers’ victory.

“Very tough to be completely upset with the game. You’re obviously upset with the outcome,” Lalonde said. “Could we have done more to generate more offense? Maybe. Hart was absolutely amazing. It just felt like one of those games where it’s going to be the first play, the first mistake, and they made it (the play) and we made it (the mistake).”

The good, the bad

Raymond had the lone Wings’ goal, his 15th, tying Larkin for the team lead. Raymond has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his last seven games, and 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in his last 16 games.

Lalonde said Raymond’s confidence is growing, but was quick to point out that the Raymond, Larkin and Dominik Kubalik line was on the ice for two goals against.

“It’s not all on Lucas, but that’s a lot of that complete game (Lalonde stresses),” Lalonde said. “We’re going to play that Larkin line a ton, which we did, and they end up having their fingerprints on the two goals against. The margin between winning and losing is razor thin, especially for us. We’re never going to play a perfect game. But we have to play complete and pretty darn close to perfect, and we can’t leave plays out there and we left a couple out there.”

Ice chips

Moritz Seider earned an assist on Raymond’s goal, giving Seider eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the last seven games.

… The loss was on the second time this season the Wings lost when allowing two or fewer goals. They’re 14-2-0 when allowing two or less goals.

… Goaltender Ville Husso followed Thursday’s victory with another impressive game Saturday, yet this time, Hart was a touch better.

“It took slot, Grade-A type of things (shots) to beat him,” Lalonde said. “We get that going forward, and he’s going to give us a real good chance.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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