DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are looking to avoid something that hasn’t occurred since the 1945 Stanley Cup finals – be shut out three games in a row.
“We’re doing a lot of good things, unfortunately we haven’t been able to find a way to get some pucks in,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I don’t think you ever should panic. I think we can play better. We’ve got to improve in some spots, but we’ve still got lots of games here.”
During that 1945 series, the Wings were blanked by the Toronto Maple Leafs, 1-0, 2-0 and 1-0.
The Wings have been shut out in their last two games, both on the road, by identical 1-0 scores.
“That’s not what we want to do for sure,” Gustav Nyquist said. “Both even strength and power play, we haven’t scored for a while. That’s something we have to change tonight for sure against L.A. They have a great goalie in net, so it’s going to be a challenge. Just get a lot of pucks on net and get some of those rebound goals. It’s going to take a dirty one to get it going.”
Detroit’s last win came against the Kings, a 3-1 decision last Saturday.
The Wings also find themselves sitting outside of the playoffs heading into play tonight. They sit sixth in the Wild Card race, with the top two reaching the postseason.
Tonight opens a five-game homestand for the Wings, who are just 6-10-7 at home this season.
“I feel like we haven’t played our best at home,” Brendan Smith said. “We want to come out here and play much better to bump up in the standings. We want to play a lot better for our fans. There’s a little bit of urgency for sure for us to start playing better, start winning some games at home.”
The last time Detroit, which is 14-7-3 on the road this year, finished under .500 at home during the regular season was 1985-86, finishing 10-26-4.
“I think we’ve just got to play a little bit like we do on the road,” Zetterberg said. “Keep it real simple. After the Winter Classic we realized that we have to play a lot simpler and I think after that we’ve been playing a good style. Maybe it’s not fancy, but I think we have to realize that we have to keep it simple to win games.”
This is the Wings’ longest homestand of the season. Their two previous four-game homestands they went 0-0-4 and 1-3-0.
Wings coach Mike Babcock feels that getting things turned around at home starts with the play of their goaltender, Jimmy Howard.
“We’ve just got to get Howie to do what he’s doing, that’s the key,” Babcock said. “You look at Howie’s numbers and look at how many times he’s played at home in the first half, Howie’s the key for us.
“When you’ve got a shortened bench or a depleted lineup, if you get goaltending, like we did the other night in LA, you can hang around, hang around, you’re going to get chances, so that’s what we got to do,” Babcock continued. “We need outstanding goaltending and we need goaltending early and then we’ll settle in and give ourselves a chance. We’re going to compete hard tonight, I guarantee that.”
Detroit is also giving up an abnormal amount of shots on goal of late, 45 or more in three of its last five games.
“We’re definitely flirting with fire here giving up so many shots but at the same time we’re doing a great job of limiting their second opportunities,” said Howard, who will start tonight in goal. “The D are going a great job of clearing out front and tying up guys’ sticks. At the end of the day if we continue to keep doing that and boxing guys out, and allowing whoever’s in net to see the puck we’ll be all right.”