DETROIT – What the Detroit Red Wings won’t be getting much of this season is rest between games.
That’s why this four-day break between contests could not have come at a better time.
“To start the season with three (games) in four nights is pretty tough,” said Jimmy Howard, who started all three games. “That first back-to- back is probably the toughest of the year. (I) definitely felt it in the third period (Saturday). Now that we got it under our belt and a few extra days off, it’s good to re-energize us.”
After opening the season last Wednesday, the Wings played at Carolina Friday and Boston the very next night, going 2-1-0 in that stretch.
Prior to that, Detroit also crammed in eight preseason games in 13 nights after a week-long training camp.
“I would have rather not played on Saturday and played on Sunday and had one day, but that’s not how they schedule it so you take what they give you,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You wouldn’t have played back-to-back you’d just have kept playing.”
With this being an Olympic year the season is also a bit more condensed.
“It gives us an opportunity to work on things from the first three games, fix some things and be sharp again on Thursday,” Daniel Alfredsson said. “It’s usually like this beginning of the year, it starts fairly slow and then, with Olympic year, it’s going to get pretty hectic once we get going. Three games and then a little break, we should be pretty fresh come Thursday.”
After practicing on Monday the team had the day off Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday. They return to action at home Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
“That’s the way it is,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I’m sure there’s a reason why. We’ve had three games, we know a little bit more what we need to work on, just got to stick to the game plan, keep working and move forward.”
In the 82-game schedule, Detroit has a four-day break between games just two other times and only twice this season they have three days between games.
Detroit goes back to playing three games in four nights again starting with Saturday’s home game vs. Philadelphia.
“In the beginning here it would have been nicer to get a little more rest between a couple of games like this,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “But it is what it is. We just have to deal with it the best that we can, and now we’re getting a lot of rest before the next game so we should be really fresh and energized for the next game.”
The Wings had very little energy in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Bruins.
“It felt like we were behind Boston kind of from the start,” Ericsson said. “We never really caught up with them. I felt that we were a little bit short of energy. If you’re looking throughout the whole team we weren’t energized enough to compete against a good team like them.”
Detroit has 14 more back-to-back games to go this season.
“There’s going to be nights where you don’t have your energy on top but you can fall back on your structure,” Kronwall said. “It’s a lot easier. That’s something we have to keep working on as we move forward. That’s something you can never work too much on.”
Helping alleviate some of the fatigue players will feel with this condensed schedule will be the team’s move to the Eastern Conference.
“Rest is an important one,” Daniel Cleary said.