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#LGRW Daily: Red Wings taking steps toward improvement amid tough stretch

Detroit defensive corps developing as Wings look for more offense

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings /

DETROIT -- Slowly but surely, Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is seeing his team's hard work paying off, especially on the defensive end.

The rebuilding Red Wings are in the midst of a tough stretch, losing their last three games, but Detroit earned a point in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss to the defending Western Conference champions, and Blashill said if his club improves its execution and gets more secondary scoring, it will have a chance to win a lot of games.

"We were better defensively, the way we're going to need to play in order to have a chance to be successful. We're going to be in lots of those tighter games," Blashill said about Detroit's performance in the series opener against Dallas. "So that's a positive, but I just think our execution still needs to be better. While it was good that we were better defensively, I still think there's way more from more people."

The Red Wings began the season 2-2-0, winning the series finale against two teams that were in the playoff bubble last season, but Detroit struggled against the Original Six-rival Chicago Blackhawks and suffered a disappointing overtime loss to Dallas Tuesday night, despite giving the Stars their first deficit of the season.

Video: Jeff Blashill | Practice Media Availability | 1/27

Blashill said if Detroit hopes to earn a third series split against a playoff team from a season ago, his club needs to improve its puck execution and special teams.

"We've got to keep grinding at it," Blashill said Wednesday afternoon. "We saw, last night, a power play that's extremely dangerous and is at a historic level from the Dallas side. But it can win you games, especially if we're able to play the way that we did last night.

"We were pretty sound defensively, didn't give up many chances. You're going to be in a lot of those close games and special teams makes a huge difference."

The Red Wings have struggled offensively to start the season, earning just 1.86 goals per game, but Blashill said if his team plays the way it's capable defensively and takes advantage of opportunities, low-scoring defensive battles could benefit Detroit.

"There's not going to be easy offense. And to be honest with you, I think we've got to be okay with being in games that are 1-1," he said. "If we can be in a lot of games that are 1-1 late in the game, I think it's a good spot for us. And then we've got to find ways to win those.

"You win them with making a play on the power play, you win them with winning that specialty teams battle and you win them by making a critical play in a critical moment."

Blashill said one way to quickly improve the offensive numbers is to feed forward Bobby Ryan -- who had a franchise-first four goals in his first three games with the Red Wings -- which would create more opportunities for others.

"We've got to be able to create more opportunities," the Wings' coach said. "We certainly have a player in Bobby Ryan, we need to find ways to get the puck more to him down low so there's more low-play options, which does open up the higher-play options, the one-timer from (Anthony) Mantha, maybe the back one-timer from (Filip) Hronek."

The Red Wings wrap up their four-game road trip Thursday night with the series finale against the Stars at 8:30 p.m., before returning home Saturday night against the Florida Panthers. Fans can catch Thursday's TV broadcast on FOX Sports Detroit Plus or on radio at 97.1 The Ticket.

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