EDMONTON, Alberta — Jeff Blashill wants more from his top line. His top player wants more from everyone.
The Detroit Red Wings finished their western Canada swing with a solid effort and great goaltending, but their inability to score was exposed in what has grown to a four-game losing streak. They left Edmonton dinged by a 2-1 loss, the third straight game in which they have managed only one goal.
After scoring 14 goals to start 3-1, they’ve scored five to fall to 3-5.
“It’s tough,” Dylan Larkin said after the loss Friday at Rogers Place. “They’re keying in on a couple of us, but it has to be all 12 forwards. We have to find ways to get in front of the goalie’s eyes and get the puck and score simple goals. We haven’t had that the past two games. It is frustrating. Three goals in three games, that’s not fun. That’s not going to win you games.
“Our goaltending was great. We have to find a way to score dirty goals and we have to get all 12 guys chipping in.”
Jonathan Bernier was outstanding, making 35 saves, three of them against a power play that came into the game clicking at 45.5 percent. His teammates put in a hard night’s work, something that wasn’t there in the 5-1 losses at Calgary and Vancouver and the 5-2 loss at home to Toronto.
More: Red Wings’ special teams to blame in loss at Calgary: ‘Guys have to step up’
“We haven’t scored enough,” Blashill said. “Here’s what I liked, though — we got down 2-0 and we talked about not melting when you get down 2-0. We didn’t melt. We kept digging and found a way to make it 2-1 and I thought we had the better of the chances in the third period. So we gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game.
“We took a step in the right direction with the way we dug in. Do we need more offense? Yeah. Are certain guys going to score more? Yes they are. Let’s make sure we keep taking steps forward here.”
More: How the Red Wings and ex-GM Ken Holland feel about meeting as opponents
Blashill went back to his top line of Larkin with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. They were quiet until the last five minutes of the game, when they buzzed around goalie Mikko Koskinen. The group had a fantastic opening weekend with a combined 16 points, but they have nine points in the six games since. It isn’t fair to expect them to shine every night, but the Wings need more from them.
“It’s hard to score tons of points night in and night out,” Blashill said. “It’s hard to be that kind of line that has to do that, but I’d also say that’s what they want. They have to find a way to dig in and be a little bit better. They know they’re going to get the other team’s best D, they know they’ll get tough matchups.
“If you want to be an elite line, you have to be so good every night. You have to be on top of your game and I don’t think they’ve been on top of their game to the level they have to be. They’ve been fine, but they have to be better than that. They know that and I think they’re going to play great on Tuesday.”
The Wings host the Canucks, who schooled them on special teams at the start of this trip. Special teams weren’t an issue against the Oilers — the Wings held them to 0-for-2 on the power play, and had only one power play of their own.
The Wings are 2-for-21 overall on the power play, but they’ve been quiet at any strength this week, and badly need several of their forwards to show up on the scoreboard. Andreas Athanasiou, coming off a 30-goal season, is too talented to have only one point (an assist) in six games. Frans Nielsen and Valtteri Filppula also are looking for their first goals.
It’s those three, plus Taro Hirose and Adam Erne, who need to find ways to be more of a scoring threat and offset the departures of Gustav Nyquist (16 goals, 49 points when he was traded at last season’s deadline) and Thomas Vanek (16 goals, 38 points in 64 games).
The Wings came into the season with the intent to shock and beat Nashville and Dallas, then went into Montreal and beat Carey Price. That was their best game of the season. What can the Wings remember from that to help them end this losing streak?
“We played fast that game,” Larkin said. “We scored timely goals. Power play scored. It’s tough. We made it hard on (Price). We didn’t make it hard on Koskinen.”
A bit of perspective, here: The Wings were playing their third game in four nights, second of a back-to-back, against a team that is now 7-1. It was the first time the Oilers won a game with only two goals.
The Wings can take something from that.
“Even though the result wasn’t there, it was confidence-building,” Larkin said. “When we play our game — and we didn’t even play our best — when we play our game, at times we’re up there with the best, hottest team in the league. We forecheck hard, we move our feet, we get pucks out of our zone quickly — we’re a good team. We need to shore up the other part and score goals. It’s on the forwards there.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.
Published at Sat, 19 Oct 2019 21:55:41 +0000