The Detroit Red Wings earned the unfortunate distinction last season of being the first NHL team eliminated from playoff contention by a rather large margin.
And while their current record of 4-10-3 isn’t exactly turning any heads, head coach Jeff Blashill believes that his squad is mentally stronger this year around as opposed to last season.
Of course, having several new faces in the linup such as the likes of defensemen Troy Stecher, Marc Staal and Jon Merril as well as forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov certainly helps.
“There were times last year we got scored on, it felt like 10, or we lost a game and it felt like we had lost 100,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Part of it is the maturation of some of the guys who have returned, and part of it is the fresh faces. Staal is good that way, Stetch is good that way, Merrill is good that way. Vladdy. They’re not rattled by what really is just a normal course of the season and normal course of a game.”
“We’ve done a good job with that overall and there are a number of factors that play into that,” Blashill said. “One is getting a big save to keep you in it at times, and two is timely scoring. We had a timely goal at the end of the first, which I think helps keep you afloat. But part of it is just we are playing better hockey. So when you are down 2-0, and you give up the third goal, it gets way harder. But if you’re playing good hockey, the likelihood of giving up the third goal is way less. So I think there’s a mental fortitude that’s been fairly good.”
“Even answering the bell against Nashville after a really tough loss in the first game, where you lose in the last minute, that showed a lot about what our guys are about. We keep coming to the rink and working hard and trying to get better.”
Their goal differential at this point last season was a stunning -33; it currently stands at -19. For Namestnikov, who scored Monday night against Chicago, it’s about continuously putting in effort, and the results will soon follow.
“We’ve been playing pretty good the last couple games,” Vladislav Namestnikov said Tuesday. “They were all tight games. We can’t get too frustrated. Obviously, we want the outcome to be different, but we just have to keep working and things will turn around here soon for us.”
– – Quotes via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press Link – –