Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App
 

 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Tightening defense is Wings' priority

Howard confirms his return for Friday, while Zetterberg sounds optimistic

Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 2:05 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
X
Share with your Friends


Tightening defense is Wings\' priority

One way for the Red Wings to improve defensively is to get Jimmy Howard and Henrik Zetterberg back into the lineup. Howard confirmed Thursday that he will start against Washington Friday, however, Zetterberg's status for the game won't be known before game day. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – It was back to the defensive basics Thursday morning at Joe Louis Arena for the Red Wings as they prepare for a home and home series with the Washington Capitals this weekend.

The Wings, who are currently on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture, have allowed at least four goals in four of the last five games.

“We haven’t been as good with the details of our game the last two games; that’s the reason we’re letting goals in,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “If we stay within the structure and just stick to the details we’re fine. I think we’ve shown that ever since the Winter Classic. Last two games we’ve gotten away from it.”

When surrendering four or more goals, the Red Wings have a 2-13-3 record this season. Last year, Detroit was 0-10-0 when it allowed four or more goals in a game.

Typically a very good puck-possession team, the Red Wings are hurting themselves recently by not protecting the puck, particularly in the neutral zone. Third-period turnovers against Florida led to the Red Wings’ destruction on Sunday, and turnovers proved costly again in a 5-0 loss at Philadelphia Tuesday.

With two games on deck against the league’s top power-play unit, the Red Wings’ defense has to tighten up quickly before the game’s best 1-2 power-play punch – Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom – come calling.

Ovechkin leads the league in goals (38), power-play goals (14) and shots on goal (273). And the Red Wings are well aware that Ovechkin’s produced four goals and seven points in his past three games.

“You got to play a little differently,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “A lot of times you want to take away the pass and let the goalie do his job but he can beat our goalies from pretty far out, so we got to be tighter on him and almost make him pass. He’s a guy you almost try to get him to pass the puck instead of shooting it because he can score from the tops of the circles.”

There are five games remaining before the league will shutdown for two weeks during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Red Wings know the urgency in picking up points before everyone heads off in different directions after next weekend.

“We know every night we’re tested,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Washington has a lot of guys that can hurt you on one shift. We’re going to have to be real good. Their power play is good. We have to pay attention to detail in that area.

“The biggest thing is we have to look after our part. As much as it is about the opposition it’s way more about yourself and how you play. We’re very capable of doing what we think is a game plan, does that guarantee success? No, but it sure gives us a chance.”

The good thing for the Red Wings is that goalie Jimmy Howard confirmed that he will return to action Friday after missing the last four games with a left knee sprain.

Babcock also indicated that he thought captain Henrik Zetterberg would return to the lineup Friday to face the Capitals, though center Pavel Datsyuk remains out with no sure timetable for his return.

Zetterberg skated for the second time since last Friday when he suffered a lower back injury, which he categorized as, “A little different, but it’s in the area,” as the previous back pain, which forced him to miss 11 games last month.

“We just have to see,” said Zetterberg, who has a club-best 44 points in 40 games. “We’ve done everything we could so it doesn’t get worse and now just hopefully stay on this path and it keeps getting better.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89