Wings set for long stretch away from home

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings knew this day would come.

And beginning Saturday it’s upon them.

Detroit plays 17 of its next 23 games on the road, starting Saturday in Vancouver.

“It’s a lot of travel, you’re away from home a lot, but at the same time we had a nice schedule here in December,” Gustav Nyquist said. “We were home a lot, feeling good, and playing well at home. I mean, we’ve got to be good on the road as well.”

The Wings are 7-5-3 on the road.

“We’ve got to find a way there,” Nyquist said. “We’ll just take one game at a time, but obviously we want to be better than we have been away.”

After playing in Vancouver Saturday, Detroit heads to Edmonton and Calgary for games on back-to-back nights – Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We (had) to take care of our home games because we have a long stretch on the road here,” Stephen Weiss said. “(We want to) make sure that we go on the road on a good note and we’re feeling good about ourselves.”

The Wings’ next home game isn’t until Jan. 17 when they host the Nashville Predators.

“It’s tough but sometimes that’s good for a team, to get away and just be together,” Luke Glendening said. “You’ve got to play good road hockey to win games. I think sometimes that’s OK.”

During this stretch, the Wings have two six-game road trips from January-February. It’ll be their first six-game road trips since the 2008-09 season. That season they played six in a row on the road from Jan. 12-27, 2009, going 2-2-2.

“I never really thought about it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about the team playing 17 of its next 23 on the road. “I put emphasis on the game that we’re playing. I tell you every year it’s the most important game of the year because it’s the one we’re playing. I give you lots of good stuff.”

Detroit is 13-4-6 at Joe Louis Arena.

“We’re going on a good road trip now, we need a good road trip,” Babcock said. “That’s good for our team, the development of our team.

“I like the direction our team’s going,” Babcock continued. “I think we’ve got a good team. I think we’re better than we’ve played of late. So now we got to show it. No sense thinking about it or talking about it, we got to do it.”

Starting the road trip in Western Canada may be just what Detroit’s needs based on its success rate of late.

The Wings are 10-4-2 in their past 16 games in Vancouver, 11-8-0 in their past 19 games in Calgary and 8-0-5 in their past 13 games in Edmonton.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to be nice to go on the road, but we don’t see these trips anymore that often,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “Now we go on the road mostly and it’s in and out. We’re going to get a long trip here and it’s going to be good for our group to get together and spend some time together.”

Detroit doesn’t have as many extended trips since moving to the Eastern Conference last season.

“Lots of games in short term,” Tomas Tatar said. “We have to focus, stay healthy, recover good and try and pick up as many points as we can.”

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