DETROIT – With the All-Star break behind them, the Wings now have to focus on playing better on the road.
And they’ve got four games over the next seven days to try and do so, beginning tonight in Calgary.
“It would have been nice to open up at home, but we’ve got another week-long trip here so we might as well do it right away,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It’s going to be a pretty hectic schedule here for awhile so it’ll be good to get going tomorrow.
“We know we have to have a better road record so we’ve got to start playing better,” Lidstrom added. “Starting off on the road might be good.”
On the road this season the Wings are one game under .500, 13-14-0.
“We’ve got a few chances here,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’ll have a good start tomorrow, and hopefully, we’ll win a few more games and figure it out.
“I think we’re giving the other teams too many easy chances to score,” Zetterberg continued. “Normally, we play solid enough defense. When we don’t do that, it’s tough to win games.”
“I think if we knew what the difference was, it would be a lot easier to just fix it,” Niklas Kronwall said. “But I think it just comes down to hard work and doing it as a five-man unit out there for each shift.”
At home they will carry a franchise-record 17-game winning streak when they host the Edmonton Oilers a week from Wednesday.
“We’ve got to get back to playing like we do at home,” said Jimmy Howard, who leads the league with 30 wins. “It’s as simple as that, paying attention to detail on the road. To be able to have success on the road you’ve got to play a full 60 minutes.”
After playing in Calgary Tuesday, the Wings travel to Vancouver (Thursday), Edmonton (Saturday) and Phoenix (Monday).
The Wings’ last road game was easily their worst performance of the season away from Joe Louis Arena, a 7-2 drubbing by the Montreal Canadiens.
“We’ve obviously had at least two or three road games that have been very uncharacteristic of us, obviously Montreal was terrible,” Danny Cleary said. “Montreal, I couldn’t even come up with a good answer for you. It seems we definitely play with a lot more urgency at home. We play more disciplined, we play faster and we play a lot better at home. We’re a team that’s capable of doing it on the road, we keep talking about it, we’re an experienced team, we’ve got good matchups so that’s not an issue and we’ve got a good goalie.
“Our record speaks for itself on the road,” Cleary added. “We haven’t been good enough. For us to stay on top, we have to definitely get a better road record. This is a good chance for us, four games against four teams that are battling, too, so it’s going to be good for us but we certainly have to get going on the road.”
The Wings do have something to look forward to after this long trip, as 18 of their last 28 are at home.
“That’s huge for us,” Babcock said. “In saying all that, we’ve got four (road) games in (seven) days to worry about. We’ve got other priorities. Calgary has beaten us twice already this year, and this is an opportunity for us to go in and play better in situations where we haven’t been very good.”
Last season the Wings, who hold the best record in the league, struggled out of the break, going 2-3-0. They were shut out in two of those three losses.
“Every time you play a game it’s important,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Last year, we didn’t come out of the All-Star break flying, so it’s important to get off to a good start. The standings are very, very tight and the thing you always want to do as a team is you want to put as much heat on the general manager to help you out as you can. The better team you have, the more likely it is that he’s going to help you out.”