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Making changes

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard will play against the Senators Friday at JLA. The Red Wings' goalie is 2-1-0 with a 2.24 GAA in four starts this season. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT -- If things aren't going well, something has to change, as a team and with individuals.

Towards that first end, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill has decided to mix the lines up again a bit.

In Thursday's practice, rookie Dylan Larkin returned to the wing with center Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

"Two things, 100 percent more reflection on moving other guys back to center position," Blashill said. "A little bit reflection of the best line combinations we can put together and then (Larkin) needs to continue to get better at face-offs, and that’s something we talked about."

Riley Sheahan was centering Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Darren Helm was centering Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco.

"We're trying," Tatar said. "We're trying to get back on the horse. This might be the change that will work for us. Obviously we are trying to make some chemistry in the lines."

After four goals and an assist in his first two games, Abdelkader has not recorded a point.

"I’m getting some chances," Abdelkader said. I think I have to get better. I think a lot of us offensively I don’t think our stats are where we want them. I don’t think we’re scoring enough goals. I think our scoring chances are way down. Shots have been down. I don’t think anyone is happy with their production, but we have to be better as a team. Individually we each have to step up our game. We’ve got Ottawa here Friday night, a chance to go prove ourselves and go out and get back on track.

Sheahan has one goal and one assist and is a team-worst minus-4.

"I’ve got to get my feet going," Sheahan said. "I haven’t been happy with how I played the last few games. I need to try and get more pucks on the net and keep it simple. Just get the feet going."

Luke Glendening was centering Drew Miller and Landon Ferraro/Joakim Andersson.

"Part of my job as a coach is to try to find the best combinations to put the guys in the best chance to be successful," Blashill said. "One thing we’re going to look to do is have Luke Glendening match-up against the other team’s best players so we kind of got him back in the role as center, where I think he can be the most effective."

CAN SHOOT MORE IF YOU HAVE THE PUCK: The Wings continue to stand in last place in the league in shots per game at 24.3.

The Philadelphia Flyers lead the league in that category with 34.9 shots per game.

"We need to spend more time in their zone, create some O zone time because we get into their zone and as soon as we get there, they chip the puck out," Tatar said. "We have to hold on to it, create some chaos down there. We have to spend more time in the O zone, we know that for sure, and from the O zone time we can get more shots, obviously."

One area the Wings have worked on is being harder on the puck once it's in the offensive zone.

"As we’ve gone through the nine games I think five of the nine we’ve had greater zone time than we’ve spent in our own end," Blashill said. "But we gotta create more off of it and we’ve got to make other teams continue to defend so that they’re tired by the time they get the puck out, but also create offense out of it. I think we can still do a better job of that."

Abdelkader said they have to be able to maintain their speed throughout the game.

"I think we’re maybe a little slow to pucks at times," Abdelkader said. "We have to be more physical, keep our shifts short so we can go at a high tempo. I think sometimes we get stuck out there a little too long."

Another part of that is face-offs. The Wings are currently 25th in the league with a 47.5 face-off winning percentage.

"Face-offs are huge," Sheahan said. "They’re kind of the key to possession. If you can win face-offs, you can spend time in their zone and get out of your zone quick. The centers have to do a good job of tying up the center, the wings have to get in quick and we have to make plays."

WORKING ON THE POWER PLAY: The Wings are 20th in the league on the power play, hitting on 16.1 percent of their chances.

"It’s been good, it’s been bad," Abdelkader said. "Our penalty kill has been good and has been bad. I think our specialty teams have to be more consistent. Our power play has got to give us more. The last game we couldn’t get in the zone so we didn’t have any zone time. We have to do a better job that way. We have the personnel in here that will turn it around and get it done. It’s just a matter of staying with it here and each guy just giving more and more and getting better."

Sheahan said they have to support each other to make it work.

"We have to break into the zone a little bit better, that’s something we worked on today," Sheahan said. "Just getting on the pucks, supporting each other, winning battle, little things like that then we can worry about setting up and making plays."

FRIDAY'S GOALTENDER: Blashill said Jimmy Howard would start Friday night against Ottawa, which means Petr Mrazek will get the start Saturday in Ottawa.

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