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Notes: Detroit just needs to win a game

Red Wings determined to let their play do the talking

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Regardless of how many points they're out of a playoff spot or why they've been lackadaisical for stretches during games, the Red Wings are aware a victory will go a long way in turning around their on-ice fortunes.

Mired in a six-game winless streak for the second time this season, the Wings are fed up with answering questions about their plight. They blame themselves and know it's up to them to step it up.

"Everything starts with hard work. The only way you're going to turn things around is with hard work, if you do things right it's going to turn around," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We can play really good, I think we've shown that, not only to everybody, but to ourselves in particular. When we're going, we can be a pretty good team. When we're not, however, it doesn't look good.

"Last night (Thursday versus Montreal), another great example, where we started off good, we were humming pretty good and then the second for whatever reason they get two quick goals and the wheels kind of fell apart.

"We can't allow that to happen."

If it sounds like it's gut check time for the Red Wings on December 1, 2017, you're correct.

"One thing I guess that we have had is after a six-game losing streak (October 16 - October 26) we seem to respond, but we got to be way better," Dylan Larkin said. "If things don't go our way for a certain period of time, we have to look into the mirror and do something about it. We can't wait for the other team to have a bad night, because teams don't have bad nights in this league.

"It really seems like we're a team historically we've beat a lot of teams and teams have us marked on their calendar. They show up to play against us, so we need to be dictating the game and not waiting for them to (make mistakes)."

After Saturday's game at Montreal, the Wings begin a two-week, five-game homestand where they host the top two teams in the Central Division (St. Louis and Winnipeg) before playing three Atlantic Division opponents (Florida, Boston, and Toronto).

It may still be relatively early in the NHL season, but the schedule deems the Red Wings must turn around their mediocre 4-5-4 record at Little Caesars Arena to have a legitimate shot at becoming a playoff team.

"Obviously, that's something we want to correct. In saying that, we can't look back, we have to look forward," Kronwall said. "Sure you can look at video and 'we have to do this or that better' but everything starts with doing it right for 60 minutes.

"It comes down to every single guy in here has to be better than we have been. We've talked a little bit about you can play really well and lose but it's a lot easier to lose when that happens.

"Nobody is happy right now, but in saying that, stay positive, go back to work. We're the only ones who can change something."

BLASHILL: WINGS ARE COMMITTED: For the second time this week, Wings coach Jeff Blashill has reiterated that his team has "bought in" to the process of how they need to play to be victorious.

"I want to make sure I'm clear on that. I think guys are buying in. I think guys have totally bought in, I think guys understand," Blashill said. "That doesn't make them perfect every night. I think guys are 100 percent committed to winning.

"You strive for perfection but you're never going to reach perfection. I think Vince Lombardi said you strive for perfection and in the process, you find greatness. That's the reality of it.

"But they're never going to be perfect. I wouldn't have a job if they were perfect every night. My job is to make sure I'm their mirror and I remind them what it takes to win.

"As I told them today, if I didn't have great belief that we can be different than other teams, if I didn't have great belief that we can be the playoff team we believe we can be, I wouldn't have meetings where I'm hard on them, I wouldn't have meetings where I would just constantly be propping them up and encouraging them, but I believe they can be great. Just like we talked about with some individuals. You don't do it if you don't think they can be great. So I think this group can be different because I think they are very committed."

When it was brought up to Blashill that when he calls out his team publicly by labeling some players as "passengers" after a loss, he might be undermining his own message. He answered forcefully.

"I think the biggest thing is I don't say anything to you guys that I don't say to them. Anything I say to you guys, I certainly have said to them or am going to say to them the next day," he said. "I don't think it's ever anything personal, it's about us getting better. I try to be as real as I can. I don't think the public needs to know everything.

"I know there's a want to having some insight into what we're thinking, so rather than have a vacuum, we try to fill that with as good a message as I can give you that I would give to them, or real similar."

Kronwall was asked if he thought there was a breakdown in communication going on in the Wings dressing room and he quickly put that notion to rest.

"This has nothing to do with any type of structure … it doesn't matter what the coach says, if the players don't do it, play for 60 minutes, it doesn't matter what he says," Kronwall said. "We have to do a way better job individually and as a team, just be better, make the right play when it's there. Simplify more than we have.

"On the road for whatever reason we've been able to keep it more simple. Make sure the puck goes in every time. We can be a very effective team when we play the right way. If we don't it's going to be tough because our B game is not good enough."

With their recent swoon, Blashill knows everyone is getting a bit restless, but he views the Wings' current situation as not as dire as it appears.

"I look at the standings today, I see we're two points out of a playoff spot on Dec. 1. I'm betting to a person none of you (media) predicted us to be in that spot on Dec. 1," he said. "Yesterday is over, this is where we stand today. I try to live in reality as much as possible. This is reality, it's not optimism, it's not negativism.

"It also says Detroit streak, lost two. They don't consider overtime losses in their streak because they understand how valuable those points are to get to that point total you need to get to be a playoff team. I don't think we've had lots of nights where we've had passengers, I think we've had lots of nights we've been real good.

"As a whole, I think we've played beyond external expectations for the majority parts of this year. We sit today not in a great spot, there's a couple games in hand by Boston, but it's not an awful spot. So let's go play good hockey and let's try to win a game on Saturday.

"I said to the guys today it's hard to win a fight if you can't take a punch. You got to take a punch. I thought the last two games we didn't take those punches well enough. It's not about getting knocked down, it's about getting back up and we got to make sure we do a way better job of getting back up in those games. We'll get back up on Saturday, I guarantee it."

FRK EXPECTED TO PLAY: After missing the Wings last eight games with a tender groin, sniper Martin Frk is healthy enough to return to Detroit's lineup Saturday night in Montreal.

"It definitely feels very good. I don't want to be hurt. I want to play to help the team win," Frk said. "So I am really excited for tomorrow and I can't wait to start the game. I know I have a good shot and tomorrow when play I have to go use it.

"The whole team needs to score more goals so I am very hopeful I can help the team to score and get on the scoresheet and get the win as well."

In 18 games, Frk has six goals among nine points and has been a staple on Detroit's power play unit with his wicked shot.

"My understanding is Frk will be available to play but I have yet to talk to the trainers," Blashill said. "I think Frk at times has been a real good player. When he plays with confidence he's a really good player for us. He does the one thing that's real hard to come by in this league and that's score goals and he can score easy.

"I think when you have more guys in your lineup that can score easy, it absorbs the games where maybe you don't play to that optimal and you can still win."

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