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Wings look to stop road woes

Players approach Saturday's tilt vs. Kings as 'huge game'

Friday, 11.18.2011 / 11:56 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Wings look to stop road woes
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – As disheartening as the first half of this current four-game road trip has been, the Red Wings were back at work with a resilient attitude at the Toyota Sports Center Friday afternoon as they prepared for Saturday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
 
The Wings’ 5-2 loss at San Jose Thursday was their fifth straight on the road, but coach Mike Babcock doesn’t believe it’s as bad as it seems.

“We did lots of good things last night,” he said. “But we found a way to make enough mistakes that it cost us the game. And we're not scoring. When you're not scoring you’ve got to be good defensively and you’ve got to stay resilient.”

Under Babcock, the Wings haven’t experienced losses like this on the road, which is befuddling since they’ve not had a four-game road pointless streak in six previous seasons.

“We usually enjoy playing on the road, going into other teams' buildings and stealing two points from them,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “We just got to stay with the task at hand, continue to play hard, continue to work hard and eventually we'll turn thing around.”

The losses are not for a lack of effort.  The Wings average a league-best 35.4 shots per game, and are second in fewest shots allowed at 26.7 per game. Against the Sharks, the Wings were credited with 42 shots – their second-highest total of the season. They actually doubled that total number when considered that the Sharks blocked 24 attempts and another 18 shots missed the mark.

“It's amazing to me because we get unbelievable opportunity, so we just got to stay with it,” Babcock said. “We had the puck a ton. You can say, ‘they're all from the outside.' No, they're not, we had a whole bunch of guys at the net and banging around, so we're not as fluid offensively as a team that's scoring all the time. When you're scoring all the time you see things quicker, do things quicker. Work your way through it. Be positive with yourself and keep playing. You do good things and good things happen every time.”

The low level of offense is disconcerting, especially on the road where the Wings have just five goals in the last five games. They’ve averaged an uncharacteristic 1.57 goals in seven road games, which is a far cry from the 3.4 goals that they’re averaging at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit led the league in road scoring last season, averaging 3.12 goals.

“Goal-scoring has been the big problem for us in the games we've lost,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We haven't been able to get goals, whether it's on the power play or even strength; just had problems scoring goals.

“We’ve got to get more traffic, we've talked about that a lot, but it shows if you're shooting the puck a lot but you don't have traffic it's hard to score. You got to get to those second chances rebounds. We have been taking a lot of shots but some of them the goalies are seeing from the outside. We haven't had the traffic you need to score.”

As frustrating as it is, Babcock continues to reminder his players to stay positive, stay focused. And they’ll have to be against the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who like the Sharks, are a strong second-period team.

“You can do what you want with words, but I'm a big believer that you make a decision and you move on with it,” Babcock said. “We just got to be more resilient. We got to play a good LA Kings team tomorrow. It should be fun.”

Still, even though they are 17 games into the schedule, some players believe that this is a desperate time, and that Saturday’s game is a must-win.

“This is a big game for us, we're approaching it as a huge game for us,” forward Danny Cleary said. “We want to nip it in the bud right away.”

The Wings are closing in on the 20-game litmus test. With 19-points in the standings, they need three straight victories just to keep pace with Babcock’s first six seasons.

“Whether it's now or late in the season, every game matters. Points matter,” Lidstrom said. “Looking at the standings teams are winning. You have to grab the points when you have a chance, even though it's a long season. You have to keep getting the points to stay up where you want to be.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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