DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings have been offensively challenged of late.
But it’s a problem they knew they were going to have when the lockout shortened season began.
“We knew our lineup was going to be a little goal-challenged,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview Monday. “We are trying to just grind out wins as we can in low-scoring games.
In their last seven games, the Wings have scored a total of 10 goals. That stretch came on the heels of an eight-goal outburst against the Vancouver Canucks.
“I just think everyone is play playoff type hockey,” Holland said. “Other teams are trying to win, too. It’s tight every night. We’re trying to grind out wins, trying to be good defensively.”
Heading into play Monday, the Wings were tied for ninth in the Western Conference, 18th overall, in goals scored with 66.
“Some people who were scoring early haven’t been scoring,” Holland said. “You look at the Western Conference, goals hard to come by.
“We have the potential to score a few more goals than we are,” Holland continued. “We’re getting chances. We’re facing good goalies every night and desperate teams.”
The team’s three leading scorers – Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner – have gone awhile without finding the back of the net.
Datsyuk has not scored a goal in 10 straight games, while Zetterberg and Brunner last scored in Feb. 24. Brunner still leads the team with 10 goals.
“We’ve got to get those gritty goals and keep putting the puck at the net,” Holland said. “I like our mindset, we’re playing playoff hockey. We’ve got to score some goals on the power play, can’t go 0-for every night. We’ve got to win 2-1, 3-2.”
The Wings, who are 5-2-2 in their last night games, could be a boost offensively with the return of Valtteri Filppula to the lineup as early as Wednesday.
“He’s could play Wednesday,” Holland said. “If not Wednesday we’ll probably wait until Saturday.”
Filppula has missed the last seven games with a shoulder injury.
The Wings recalled Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids. Nyquist is leading the American Hockey League in scoring.
In two games in Detroit this season, Nyquist has no goals.
Another boost to the bottom six group of forwards could be the return of Darren Helm.
“He appears to have turned the corner,” Holland said. “He’s skating every day and has no setbacks.”
The only issue with Helm, who has played one game this season, will be his fitness level. Holland thinks he’s one or two weeks away.
“We don’t expect him to play in Western Canada, maybe between the Minnesota and Anaheim games.”
Holland hopes to have Mikael Samuelsson (broken left index finger) back during the Wings’ trip to California, March 22-28. His issue is also conditioning.
Todd Bertuzzi (back) has begun riding a stationary bike a bit and Holland hasn’t ruled out his return this season.
“We were optimistic a few weeks ago, but then his back wasn’t feeling so good,” Holland said. “On Friday there was optimism again. We’re going to give it another week to 10 days and then decide where he’s at.”
The news isn’t as good on defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who suffered another setback from his sprained left shoulder injury.
“He’s frustrated,” Holland said. “He’s not 100 percent. All we can do is give him more time.
“We got eight healthy defensemen ready and available,” Holland added.