Red Wings succeeding in one-goal games
Detroit will try to continue trend vs. Tampa Bayby Paul Harris / NHL.com Correspondent
DETROIT - One-goal games have become a way of life for the Detroit Red Wings this season.
Only one team, the Vancouver Canucks, has been in more one-goal games than Detroit's 31. The Red Wings lead the NHL with 18 wins in games decided by one goal. Their record in those games is 18-5-8.
"We don't mind one-goal games, as long as we're winning," defenseman Brendan Smith said. "When you have one-goal games that are low-scoring, you know you're playing well defensively. We'd like to get that extra goal to take some of the pressure off. But as long as we win, it's OK."
Detroit is 24th in the NHL with 121 non-shootout goals and ninth in non-shootout goals allowed with 121. That's not the kind of goal differential normally associated with a team that brings a 25-16-8 record and a tie for second in the Atlantic Division into this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry Game against the Tampa Bay Lightning (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA Sports).
"Goal differential is an output," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "We want to win hockey games, whether it's 2-1 or 7-1."
While Detroit has won the majority of its one-goal games (its .581 percentage in such games is seventh in the League) the Red Wings would prefer things to be a little easier.
"Sometimes it's frustrating," defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "You like to have a bigger cushion."
Lack of scoring has been an issue for the Red Wings most of the season. They had a total 10 goals in their final three games going into the All-Star Break, only the third time this season they have scored at least three goals in three consecutive games.
"There's a give-and-take with scoring goals," Blashill said. "Usually when you score more goals, you give up more chances."
Detroit's goaltenders, particularly Petr Mrazek, have taken care of things no matter how many chances the team allows.
Mrazek and Jimmy Howard shared the crease early in the season, and each was outstanding. But Howard faltered and Mrazek has become Detroit's No. 1 goaltender, playing 10 of the past 12 games. Mrazek's .932 save percentage is tied for second in the NHL, and his 2.03 goals-against average is tied for third. Mrazek's record in 18-9-4.
"I keep on feeling great throughout the whole season," Mrazek said, "but every game you play you get more confident, and that's what helps me in the games."
Blashill said the lack of offensive support hasn't bothered Mrazek.
"He just seems to have the same approach all the time, whether it's home, road, none of that stuff seems to bother him," Blashill said. "He's been pretty consistently good throughout the season, certainly in the last month or so, he's been real good. So I think it takes elite goaltending to win in this league. I think we're going to have to continue to get elite goaltending to win as we go through the rest of the year."
DeKeyser put it bluntly.
"We don't win those one-goal games without those saves," he said.
The Red Wings feel that playing so many tight games now will serve them well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The games are low-scoring in the playoffs, Mrazek said, "and that's going to help us because we've been playing those kind of games."