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Notes: Margin of error slim for the Red Wings

Detroit seeks to be a little more consistent on lengthy homestand

by Arthur J. Regner @arthurjregner /

DETROIT -- In today's NHL, the margin of error between winning and losing is minuscule.

The Red Wings are winless in their last five games (0-2-3), but to a man you can sense they feel they're not playing poorly.

"I think we've been fairly consistent towards the identity of playing fast. I thought we did a good job against the Rangers, I thought we did a good job against Jersey," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said when asked if Detroit's consistency has been erratic during this mini-losing streak. "Two things we talk a lot about is playing fast and pressuring. There's ebbs and flows in every game. Last night (versus Los Angeles) the chances were about dead even.

"This is the NHL. Very few nights you're going to have 4-0 easy wins in the league. I think we've done a way better job this year than a year ago of buying into the way we're going to have to play to be successful."

Blashill believes his team has "bought in" to the way they must play to be successful; however, he admits it's sometimes perplexing when the team is executing well, but victories are difficult to achieve.

"I've talked to a bunch of the guys. I think the guys know that in the last five games there's been three games in overtime." Blashill said. "We feel like we certainly could have won any of those games and we got points in them, so it's not like we lost five games in regulation. Right now, there's no challenge to the buy-in of how we have to play to be successful."

Veteran defenseman Mike Green realizes the Wings haven't been awful during their recent swoon, but there is always room for improvement in a team's game.

"We want to achieve that consistency every night; I think you need to raise the bar as the season goes on," Green said. "Obviously, teams are getting better and on that way, you want to keep up with them and stay ahead of them. Consistency is key, we've done a good job here of playing that way.

"At times, we've played really well and haven't won, but we can't make excuses -- we've got to make sure we get our points."

One aspect of their game the Wings need to elevate according to Green is what he calls "the gray areas."

"It's just going to those gray areas," he said. "Sometimes it's those ones when you give up on a play and you don't think it's going be there, but it ends up being there.

"I think we just need to go to our spots, finish our routes and compete a little bit harder in those gray areas, I think we'll be fine."

Parity in the league is also a factor. Many of the Wings have commented on just how close teams are as far as talent level.

"There's no easy nights anymore, every team comes to play," Green said. "You have your nights where things may come a little bit easier than others, but I shouldn't use that word. There's no easy nights really.

"It's just the margin of error within the league, there's so much depth with the four lines. Every line can play nowadays and goaltending is outstanding, so the margin of error is that much closer.

"So, we have to make sure we're prepared and focused every night, giving ourselves a good chance to win."

ZETTERBERG STILL A FACTOR: After being held scoreless against the Kings on Tuesday night, Henrik Zetterberg has not scored a goal in 18 games.

"Yeah, it does," was how Detroit's captain responded when questioned if the goalless drought is affecting him. "Obviously it's not fun when you don't score. So I take big responsibility in that."

After Wednesday's practice, Blashill was asked about Zetterberg and whether Father Time is finally catching up to Detroit's veteran center.

"First of all, he's still a 200-foot player that helps you be in the mix of those games to potentially win them. He played lots of minutes in a lot of those games that we were in as the shootout against Columbus, in overtime against the Rangers, Jersey." Blashill said. "He's a big part of that. You got to have 200-foot centermen that play both sides of the puck in order to have any chance to win and he consistently does that, he just hasn't been as offensive as he'd like to, I'd like to or you guys (the media) would like him (to be).

"This isn't the first time in his career. I remember my first year here as an assistant and you guys were asking me the same questions, because I remember saying to myself that's the difference in the NHL, you can never get away from it.

"When you're not in the NHL, you don't get asked about it every day. That was eight years ago and he carried the team for a long time. I expect him to continue to produce."

DALEY AND FRK INCHING CLOSER: Defenseman Trevor Daley (neck stinger) told reporters on Wednesday that he hasn't been cleared to play, but he remains optimistic. His coach was a bit more hesitant.

"That's a tough one to answer because it's symptom-based and as soon as the symptoms are gone he can play but I haven't talked to Piet (Van Zant, Detroit's athletic trainer)," Blashill said, "I know Dales wants to play and feels like he's right there, but we got to be real confident that we're not putting him in any kind of situation where he can hurt himself further."

As far as forward Martin Frk, who has been nursing a tender groin, Blashill was more upbeat.

"Frky is definitely closer," Blashill said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to Piet after the skate. I would still be guessing Saturday (at Montreal) if everything goes well. I haven't talked to him yet today either."

All the Red Wings participated in Wednesday's practice except Frans Nielsen, whom Blashill said was having a "maintenance day."

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