DETROIT -- Yes, the Detroit Red Wings have rattled off 19 straight wins at Joe Louis Arena since last losing here on Nov. 3 to the Calgary Flames.
It doesn't mean all of the wins have been pretty, especially the last few in the stretch. Since beating the Buffalo Sabres 5-0 on Jan. 16 to set a new team record for consecutive home wins, they've eked out wins by just one-goal margins in three of the past four wins at Joe Louis Arena -- including two by shootout.
On Friday night, win No.19 came by shootout in a game the Wings were largely outplayed by the Anaheim Ducks -- with Detroit looking slow and a little tired for long stretches. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock hopes that trend changes on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) -- when they try to tied the NHL record with their 20th straight home win.
"We've got to play way better than we have played," Babcock said. "Our energy level this last little bit hasn't been as good and our goal to just skate and play the kind of game we want to play at a high level hasn't been there. We've found ways to just grind out games with good goaltending and defense, and yet we think we can be better than we've been … and we have to be."
Is he concerned about the recent trend?
"No, it's just the ebbs and flows of the year," Babcock said. "You're not always as good as you can be, and that's why you grind it out. The next morning, like [Detroit general manager]Ken Holland always says, you look in the paper and you've got two points and it's a Picasso. You find a way to do it and keep grinding. If you can win when you're on a down cycle, that's a great thing."