Detroit Red Wings DetroitRedWings.com presented by AT&T
2015-16 Ticket Plans Available 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 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

DetroitRedWings.com is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and DetroitRedWings.com are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 
Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map