DETROIT – It’s a distinction that the Red Wings desperately want to avoid as they head out on three-game road trip to Western Canada this week.
The Wings are the only NHL team without a power-play goal on the road in this lockout-shortened season. They have gone 36 straight man-advantages – spanning 10 road games – without getting a single puck across the goal line.
Detroit is one road game short of owning a dubious record for futility in the past 24 seasons, becoming the team with the most consecutive road games to start a season without a power-play goal.
The Wings are currently tied with the first-year Minnesota Wild, who scored its first road power play goal during a 6-1 win at Boston on Nov. 18, 2000.
“We don’t get the puck back,” coach Mike Babcock said. “You get in, you get set up, you get a shot and they clear it down the ice. It’s a like a marathon going up and down the ice.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to do a way better job on the retrievals. If we do that, your skill comes in. And if you don’t do that, you don’t look like you’ve got any skill.”
The Red Wings are averaging less than 1.5 shots per power play on the road. They have fired 51 shots with the man-advantage
Detroit will get its best opportunity to end the drought on Wednesday in Calgary, where the Flames own the league-worst home penalty kill. Calgary has successful killed off 75.6 percent (31-of-41) man-advantages at home.
Babcock has looked to remedy the Wings’ road woes, shuffling players on power play all season long. This week likely won’t be any different for the Wings who will play three games – at Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver – in four days.
“It changes every game, every moment,” Babcock said. “Whoever’s playing good, gets out there. … It (has) to do with he was getting the puck back. Whoever is playing well gets an opportunity.”
So, with that, here’s a look ahead to this week in Hockeytown:
WEDNESDAY – at CALGARY FLAMES (9-10-4): The Flames are 4-5-1 in their last 10, but lost a pair of four-goal decisions in southern California last week. Veteran goalie Mikka Kiprusoff allowed 10 goals on 46 total shots in a 4-0 loss at Anaheim, before he was yanked in third period of a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles. … Injuries have been a problem for the Flames between the pipes this season, which forced management to claim backup netminder Joey MacDonald off waivers from Detroit last month. Joey Mac is 3-3-1 with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in eight games since joining the Flames. However, Kiprusoff is finally healthy, and could begin to improve on his 3.43 GAA and .867 save percentage – both career lows. … Jiri Hudler has six assists in the last five games, and has 12 on the season, which leads the Flames.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Named an alternate captain this season, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester holds the longest current ironman streak in the NHL at 611 games – a streak that started on March 6, 2004 – which is sixth longest in league history behind Andy Hebenton (630), Craig Ramsey (776), Steve Larmer (884), Garry Unger (914) and Doug Jarvis (964). On March 15, 2011, he broke the NHL iron man streak by a defenseman at 496 (set by Colorado’s Karlis Skrastins at 495). Bouwmeester’s streak includes seven consecutive seasons without missing a game. He has a goal and four assists, but is a minus-1 in the last eight games. … Bouwmeester is still without a goal in 19 career games against the Red Wings.
FRIDAY – at EDMONTON OILERS (8-11-5): This is the third and final meeting of the 2013 season against the Red Wings. Detroit handed the Oilers their only shutout of the campaign in a 3-0 decision at Joe Louis Arena last Thursday. The Wings beat the Oilers, 2-1, on Feb. 9. … Former Michigan State standout and Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff returned to the fledgling team this week after missing 15 games with a displaced and fractured knuckle that he sustained when he was hit by a puck at Vancouver on Feb. 4. … The Oilers are 2-6-2 in their last 10 and own the league’s worst goal-differential with a minus-17 heading into Sunday’s game at Chicago. … Beginning with Friday’s game against the Wings, the Oilers will play seven of their next nine at Rexall Place
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Petry has three goals and two assists in seven games and is averaging 21:25 minutes of ice time per night for the Oilers. The former second-round draft pick from Michigan State, by way of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, is in his third NHL season with Edmonton. Petry was an assist short of picking up his first career Gordie Howe hat trick when he scored and dropped the gloves with Columbus forward Matt Calvert on March 3. … A solid puck-mover, Petry is currently third on the Oilers in hits (52) and blocked shots (39).
SATURDAY – at VANCOUVER CANUCKS (11-6-6): This is the second meeting of the season with the Canucks and the first of two at Rogers Arena. The Wings will conclude their season-series with eh Canucks with a return visit to the Pacific Northwest on April 20. … A groin injury, followed by an illness, sidelined left winger David Booth for most of the season. He’s played in only eight games, but still hasn’t found the back, though not for the lack of trying. The streaky goal producer and Detroit native has 20 shots on goal. … Dan Hamhuis and Alexander Elder are among the league-leaders in defensive scoring. Hamhuis has two goals and 12 assists, while Edler has four goals and eight assists. … of the three Western Conference divisions, it looks like the Canucks have a fight on their hands as seven-points separate the five-team Northwest Division. … The Canucks are 1-3-2 in their last six games.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Daniel Sedin has taken advantage on the power play throughout his NHL career, collecting 105 goals with the man-advantage. He ranks second only to Markus Naslund (114) for most power-play goals in franchise history and is 16th among active players in the league, trailing Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney (106). Sedin has logged six seasons with 10 or more power-play tallies, with a career-high 18 during 2010-11, and seven seasons with 20 or more power-play points. Over the span of his career, Sedin has recorded 35.2 percent of his total career point production on the power play with 261 points. … In 43 career games against the Red Wings, he has 15 power-play points, including five goals.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose
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