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Wings' Blashill: "Right now we’re an average hockey team"

November 18, 2015, 11:56 PM ET [2 Comments]
Bob Duff
Detroit Red Wings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
To paraphrase that old Styx tune, the Detroit Red Wings had too much (penalty) time on their hands (to kill).

Ultimately, it helped kill them in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.

Though the Capitals were only one-for-six with the man advantage, it was that one, a first-period goal by Justin Williams, who redirected a Matt Niskanen pass from the point between the legs of Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek, that knotted the count at 1-1, where it stayed until Evgeny Kuznetsov netted the winner 45 seconds into extra time.

Detroit was shorthanded four times in the first period, setting the Wings back on their heels and messing with their line combinations.

“I don't know what the penalties were, us compared to them, but I know we had quite a few more,” said Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who sat out two penalties, equalling the number of power-play chances the Capitals afforded the Wings the entire game.

“It's tough to generate offense when you're constantly killing penalties like that.”

It’s also difficult to generate offense when your line combinations are all messed up because only certain players kill penalties, tilting the ice time chart on its side.

“What happened in the first was AA (Andreas Athanasiou) and Pulkky (Teemu Pulkkinen) didn’t play at all,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. Athanasiou was limited to 33 seconds of ice time, while Pulkkinen skated for 1:31.

“Millsie (Drew Miller) didn’t play five on five. We killed so many penalties and Pav (Datsyuk) and Z’s (Henrik Zetterberg) line, neither one of them kill penalties, so I have to keep getting those guys back on the ice, so it certainly affects the flow.”

It was the type of penalties more than the amount of penalties that frosted Blashill the most. There was a delay of game infraction, a too many men call and two offensive zone infractions among Detroit’s fouls.

“You don’t want to take those types … three of them were stick penalties,” Blashill said. “We’ve got to move our feet, and keep our sticks on the ice.”

No Run Support
Wednesday was Mrazek’s 10th start and in six of those games, the Wings have scored just one goal.

“I thought as the game went along, in the second period we did lots of good stuff,” Blashill said. “Not to say we didn’t give up anything, but we pushed and had lots of O-zone time, some good chances.

“I still think we can create better chances out of the O-zone though and be a little bit more ready to shoot. I think we’ve got to find a way to get to more seconds.”

If they don’t, the Wings will continue to tread water in the NHL standings.

“Right now we’re an average hockey team, based on our record (9-8-2),” Blashill said. “We want to become a really good hockey team. We’ve got to find a way to win these games at home. I think we’ve made some progress but we’ve got to continue to make lots more progress.”

Keeps Battling
Mrazek was felled when struck by a hard John Carlson shot in the third period, but was able to get up and continue following a brief recovery period.

“I just didn’t see the puck so I didn’t expect that hard shot to get through the D,” Mrazek said. “It just went through my chest and hit my shoulder.”

Ovechkin Silenced
Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin, still seeking his 484th goal to surpass former Wing Sergei Fedorov as NHL’s all-time leading Russian goal scorer, fired four shots on goal in the game’s first five minutes, then just two the rest of the way.

“We did a really good job against him today,” Mrazek said. “In the first period, five shots but he got one shot in the last two periods.

“I think he tried to pass more than shoot after.”

DeKeyser felt the Wings were able to put Ovechkin off his game and frustrate him.

“I don't think he was getting as many shots through as he wanted to and we were doing a good job,” DeKeyser said. “Our guys were getting in shooting lanes and trying to block him.”

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