The Detroit Red Wings struggled at home to start the new year, while their road play was nearly seamless, recording a 5-1 record on their six-game road trip that began January 2nd. But lately, the tables have turned. They’ve gone 4-0-1 in their past five at Joe Louis Arena, but following a 6-3 loss to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, they’ve gone winless in their past four away from Hockeytown.
An uncharacteristic performance from Petr Mrazek led to his being yanked in the third period against Pittsburgh in favor of Jimmy Howard. But head coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t throwing his young net minder under the bus.
“I didn’t see anything (wrong) tonight,” Blashill explained. “I thought he was fine tonight. I thought the other night (against Boston) he was a bit off. He would tell you that as well…..but I just think – I don’t care who’s in the net – you can’t play that way defensively and have long-term success.”
While Blashill defended his netminder, captain Henrik Zetterberg put the blame for the poor showing on his own shoulders.
“I think just a little bit more urgency from the beginning of the games, that’s on me,” he said. “We’ve got to be better from the start.”
The Red Wings have been outscored 19-8 during their past four road losses, including setbacks to divisional rivals Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. Zetterberg echoed the sentiment that the defensive play needs to improve.
“We’re probably turning the puck over a little bit too much,” Zetterberg said. “I don’t think we did that in the stretch when we didn’t give up that many goals.”
Detroit will look to salvage what’s left of this road trip with games against the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers. While they currently sit third in the Atlantic, the competitive division remains as tight as ever, and points couldn’t be at a higher premium.