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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59