Four-day break gives Wings chance to work while resting

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings are doing what most would think a team would do during a four-day break between games … rest up.

“It’s kind of a unique opportunity for us to not have any games this week after just finishing a stretch where we had a lot of games in a short amount of days,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.

The Wings returned to practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and won’t play again until hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

Detroit will only have one more four-day break between games this season, at the start of February.

“It gives us a chance to do some work, it also gives the guys a chance to freshen up,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t like our game as much the last little bit. We think we can be better, so it gives us a real focal point here. We did some work here on Monday when I was away, and we’ll have a good specialty teams day (Thursday) and get some tempo in and then we play a real good Blackhawks team.”

The Wings play 13 games in the next 24 days, playing every other day beginning Friday.

“We’ll spend a lot of time working on the contact part of the game,” Babcock said. “When you play every second day you don’t get to do as much box outs and D-zone coverage and the physical part of the game.”

Eight of Detroit’s next 13 games are at home.

“I think just getting back to watching some video, looking at our segments, each segment as we go through the five-game stretches,” Abdelkader said. “These last five games we haven’t been as good defensively as we need to be, given up too many goals. We know we need to improve and what we need to do, just getting back to our work habits and our structure that takes care of us.”

The team worked mostly on battle drills, which included 3-on-3s and 2-on-2s on Tuesday.

“I think guys had a really good day off, kind of got refreshed and rejuvenated,” Abdelkader said. “Guys were energized. Guys realize what’s at hand, we haven’t played the way we’re capable of or the way we wanted to the last three, four, five games. We know we need to get better.”

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