DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock knows the importance of his team’s pending four-game trip to Western Canada.
“Have you ever heard that joke, if you can’t win at home you’ve got to go on the road and if can’t win on the road you’ve got to find somewhere else to play,” Babcock said after practice.
The Wings’ road trip begins Wednesday night in Vancouver and concludes Monday in Winnipeg. They’re winless in their last four games, going 0-2-2, scoring just five goals over that stretch.
“It’s a huge trip for us,” Daniel Cleary said. “We’ve got to get back to playing the way we’re supposed to play and capable of playing.”
Detroit began the season 6-2-0.
“I think sometimes you simplify your game on the road,” Cleary said. “You play a strong game, good defensively, just play a smart game. That’s what we need to do. We need to get a lot better defensively. Once we do that, grind out some low scoring games then the offense will come.”
The Wings have been outshot in eight of their first 12 games this season and have given up an average of 32.4 shot per game.
“Adversity is nothing new to NHL players and teams,” Cleary said. “Listen, we’re 6-4-2 and we haven’t played well. We have to get better in every area of the game and that’s just it.”
The road trip, which also stops in Calgary Friday and Edmonton Saturday, is something players feel will pull the team together.
“Right now home hasn’t been treating us that well,” Jimmy Howard said. “Hopefully, getting out of here, getting on the road, doing some dinners together with the guys will help put these past few games behind us.”
The Wings are 3-2-0 on the road this season.
“We’re going to enjoy it, play some good hockey and get some wins,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Everything that happens just happens and you have to deal with it. There’s no big panic button that is pushed, but we know we got to play better. The only thing we can do is to go out and play good hockey.
“It doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn’t matter how many meetings we have, it doesn’t matter what we’re telling the other guys to do, everyone has to look at themselves and go in and do a better job,” Zetterberg continued. “If we do that we’ll come together and play better hockey as a team.”
Detroit heads into play Tuesday night fifth in the Atlantic Division.
“Frustration is something that you’re just wasting your energy being,” Niklas Kronwall said. “At the same time everyone in here thinks we’re a hell of a lot better team than what we’re showing right now. We want to get back on track and get back to playing some good hockey. We know it’s in here, now we have to show it.”
The Wings have also had issues with turnovers registering 116 giveaways through 12 games.
“A good road trip is never bad,” Kronwall said. “We’re looking at this as getting back to playing the way that we can and play like we know how to play. We know how to play out there we’re just not showing it out there.
“I don’t think there’s any point in time where it’s like, ‘Get those guys off ice,’’ Kronwall added. “No question about it. That’s not how we work. You win as a team, you lose a team. We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and the only way to get out of it is to have all the guys pull together and get going in the right direction. That’s how we’re going to solve this one.”