Lack of offense contributing to Red Wings’ disappointing tailspin

Detroit News

Detroit The Red Wings aren’t scoring many goals. And, sure enough with the way it works, they’re not winning many games anymore, either.

Saturday’s 3-0 loss in Philadelphia was the latest example, with the offense non-existent.

The Wings failed to capitalize on a staggering seven power plays, not helping matters, and lost for the 12th time in the last 15 games (3-11-1).

“That was the difference; our inability to execute on the power play was the difference,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “You get that many looks and not to generate a goal, that was the difference.”

Power play, even strength, shorthanded, whatever the Wings haven’t been scoring a ton of goals lately.

Over these last 15 games, as the Wings’ season has turned for the worse, they’ve scored a meager 29 goals, an average of 1.93 per game. That’s not going to help a hockey team win many games.

The offensive slump, as you’d expect, is going through the entire lineup. Players who are expected to score haven’t been doing it lately.

Lucas Raymond has one goal in his last 19 games, none in the last eight games. Dominik Kubalik has two goals in his last 18 games, none in the last eight. Andrew Copp has two goals in his last 15 games. David Perron has one goal in the last 13 games, none in the last nine.

Jonatan Berggren, after an impressive start, has one point (an assist) in his last 11 games. Joe Veleno has struggled mightily offensively, with no points in his last 20 games.

If it weren’t for the spark supplied by Alex Chiasson (five goals, four of them power plays) in the last eight games, and the steadiness of Dylan Larkin (four goals in the last 11 games), the offense would be completely barren.

So how do the Wings change things around these final 10 games?

With the lineup decimated, having seen Michael Rasmussen (lower-body) out for the season, and Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana and Oskar Sundqvist all dealt at the trade deadline, the Wings are going to have to rely on grit rather than skill, considering where the roster is currently.

Lalonde has been preaching about the need for the Wings to go into those “hard areas,” around the net, and create havoc and score tough goals.

“We can execute a little bit more but it’s just going to be a challenge, that’s the reality,” Lalonde said. “We want to hang in there with these tight games, but the reality is, and the lineup we’re currently filling isn’t getting us five or six goals a game or out-scoring mistakes.

“We have to eliminate our mistakes.”

More: Lack of power-play production costs Red Wings against Flyers

Copp agreed the execution can be better and play with the puck below the goal line a bit more, but the bottom line is simple.

“Our recipe has to be pretty simple going forward,” Copp said. “Just get pucks to the net and crash the net.”

‘Ned’ returns

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic started his first NHL game since Dec. 8, stopping 19 of 21 shots against the Flyers.

Nedeljkovic earned the chance, with Ville Husso (lower-body) unavailable to play and Magnus Hellberg being pulled from Thursday’s loss against St. Louis.

Nedeljkovic likely earned himself another start soon.

“He was excellent,” Lalonde said. “It was a tough net game to play, in that we didn’t give up a ton but when we did, it was of the Grade A variety, but he was sharp.

“I love the way he handles the puck. It was a real good performance by him.”

Nedeljkovic sees these final three weeks of the regular season as an opportunity for not just himself, but a lot of players, to prove something in their current careers.

“It’s a competitive league and it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, somebody is playing for something,” Nedeljkovic said. “Whether it’s a contract or bonus or records, wins or losses, whatever, somebody is playing for something. You have to find it within yourself, whatever it is, that’s going to drive you the most.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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