Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Detroit Red Wings

Notes: Red Wings must be consistently hard to play against

McIlrath inserted into lineup to add size and physicality; Boyer hits 2,000 games

by Arthur J. Regner @ArthurJRegner /

NEW YORK -- Though the numbers haven't been pretty for the Red Wings during their current 1-10-1 stretch, they're aware things can turn around quickly in the NHL - once they win a hockey game.

"Eventually it's going to come because I've been in situations like this in Arizona where we lost 10 in a row or something but then we also won nine or 10 in a row, too," forward Brendan Perlini said. "I've been on opposite sides. As quick as it can go bad one way, it can go right the other way and go really good. It's just about believing in that process and making sure each time you step on the ice, you give that max effort."

Tweet from @NHL: It's an Original Six matchup tonight on Wednesday Night Hockey! @DetroitRedWings vs. @NYRangers at 8 ET on @NHLonNBCSports. #WNH

Many of the Wings have echoed Perlini's thoughts about maximum effort and flat-out taking the game away from the opposition, but the Wings haven't been able to find any consistency to begin to turn their fortunes around.

"Just have to break out of it. It seems like we play a couple (games) really well and then we'll go right back to our old habits," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "So it's just about going out there and taking care of the details of the game. We're one of those teams that has to outwork everyone.

"I wouldn't say (we're) lazy but it's not getting pucks in at the right time, turning pucks over at the offensive blue line and all you're really doing is generate the other team's transition game and then they're forechecking. Next thing you know, you're hemmed in your own zone. We have to find a way to eliminate that from our games.

"Today's a new day. You have a chance to go out there and prove yourself once again. We have to go out there and start proving on a consistent basis that we're a good hockey team."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "Today's a new day. You have a chance to go out there and prove yourself once again."🗣���: Howard | #DETvsNYR

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was asked after Wednesday's optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden, where the Wings will take on the Rangers in a nationally televised (NBCSN) game beginning at 8 p.m., if the Wings are not consistent because once things begin to slide, players have the tendency to overcompensate, which leads to chaos on the ice.

"There's not one thing going on," Blashill replied. "When you're a competitor and you want to win, sometimes you try to take it upon yourself to go out and try to make it happen and usually when you force things, it doesn't go well and you start playing a little bit on your own and that's where we just got to focus on playing smart, great hockey and shift by shift play really good hockey.

"I've told our guys a lot, probably ad nauseam but it's reality, we got to have a next-shift, next-game mentality and this is the next game. If we win this game, we're going to feel good about ourselves after the game, so let's go out and play really good hockey."

Hockey may have set plays, but the puck bounces in strange and unpredictable ways, so if you do get an odd bounce or two, resulting in a goal against, the Wings have to stick to their process and control what they can control and not dwell on bad puck luck.

"For us, we can only control certain things out there," Perlini said. "We can't control sometimes the way the puck is going to bounce off the ice and stuff like that. Sometimes it's luck, sometimes you get a really good goalie, but for us, we can control how hard we work, the effort that we put in.

"As long as we have a strong effort and everyone is coming off the ice saying, 'That's the absolute max I can give,' then that's all we can ask for, you know what I mean?"

Blashill feels the Wings have had some good, solid efforts during their skid, but they must maintain that high compete level for an entire game, again emphasizing playing consistently good hockey.

"We need to play great hockey. I think we've done a pretty good job of most of this year of putting the past behind us and playing good hockey," Blashill said. "That doesn't mean it results in wins. Steve (Yzerman) and I talk, and all Steve looks at is process. Is the process good? That's all we try to talk about.

"We need to have great process so we can put ourselves in position to win but certainly winning gives you hope and we need some wins."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We need to be harder to play against and I think Dylan (McIlrath) embodies that."🗣���: Blashill | #DETvsNYR

McIIRATH BRINGS SOME JAM: Dylan McIlrath is 6-foot-5 and weighs 231 pounds. He can handle himself on the ice, and when he was called up at the end of last season from the Grand Rapids Griffins to Detroit, his play impressed the Red Wings brass.

In seven games for Detroit, the rugged defenseman was pointless, had four penalty minutes and was plus-2; he delivered 19 hits with an average ice time of 15:11 per game.

He was also a good penalty killer, and with Trevor Daley being placed on injured reserve, the Wings called up McIlrath on Tuesday from the Griffins because the defenseman brings size and physical play to the Wings' blue line.

"Dylan played really well for us at the end of last year. He was a really good penalty killer for us. Obviously, our penalty kill hasn't been very good. He also brings physicality and size," Blashill said. "On our D corps right now, we don't have enough size and as a team, we haven't brought enough physicality. We need to be harder to play against, so I think Dylan embodies that. Can he come in and play good? I hope so.

"He started the year in Grand Rapids and struggled a little bit. I think getting sent down hurt him a little bit but (he) played well as of late so I hope he comes in and does a real good job. We had a pretty small D corps the other night and this gives us some more size and gives us some jam (and) some physicality."

McIlrath, 27, will be on the Detroit blue line on Wednesday against the Rangers, the team which originally drafted him in the first round, 10th overall, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He played 38 games with the Rangers and is really pumped to be suiting up against his old team.

"It'll be my first time playing against them, so it'll be fun," McIlrath said. "A lot of familiar faces on the other side, so I'm looking forward to it. Whenever you get the call, no matter the circumstances you're happy, (but) to come back to MSG (Madison Square Garden), where it all started for me. It's special to be back here."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "I'm just looking to help the team whatever way I can."🗣���: McIlrath | #DETvsNYR

With the Red Wings struggling, McIlrath knows this is an opportunity to showcase his ability, but he's grounded in reality.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it all. I never know when my last NHL game will be," McIlrath said. "I just want to take it all in, because this opportunity doesn't come around every day. (My approach) is just kind of build off how I finished the year last year.

"I think I came in with nothing to lose and just played my game. That really helped me. This time around, yes, the team's struggling but I'm not going to go out of my way to do anything extra. That isn't within my means, so I'm just looking to help the team in any way I can."

BOYER HITS 2,000 NHL GAMES: Wednesday's game will be No. 2,000 for Red Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer, a span of 26 seasons.

After spending one season ('93-'94) as an assistant equipment manager with the New Jersey Devils, the Sault St. Marie native (Canadian side), got a phone call which led him to the Red Wings.

"Johnny Wharton (former Wings trainer) called me and said, 'Jimmy Devellano's calling you in 10 minutes. Don't leave your phone.' I had known John from my time at Lake Superior State. We had some mutual friends through Jeff Jackson, who's now at Notre Dame," Boyer said. "It just kind of all snowballs. Hockey's really small once you get down to it. It's a small game."

Boyer puts in extremely long hours and even has a bed at Little Caesars Arena.

"They're not for napping, they're for sleeping overnight when you're on back-to-back games and stuff like that," Boyer said. "A game day is get up, my primary responsibility is sharpening skates and making sure the players are safe and get on the ice, and then I do all the purchasing so I've got to make sure we have enough sticks, gloves, tape, Q-tips, everything.

"I'm not doing it alone. I have two of the best assistants in the NHL in John Remejes and Brady Munger. We work as a team. I might be the head equipment guy but we're a team that works together and we get things done."

Boyer's memory bank is full since he has been a part of so many teams and seen a lot of players through the years, so many in fact that he really can't single out one memory which stands out as he approaches game 2,000.

"Plenty of memories. It's hard to remember all of them until you're sitting down having a beer with all your buddies and then all the stories come out," Boyer said. "But the best part of my day and the best part of the game and the best thing over the last 26 years is the players, the coaches, the camaraderie.

"I told somebody, you get on the plane and you feel it. That's what it's all about, being a part of a small group within a larger group that is still pretty small overall in the sporting world. It's very unique and I love getting up every morning and coming to work. I'm happy that Kenny Holland and Steve and the Ilitch family, obviously for such a long time has had the confidence and the trust in me to do the job."

Congratulations to Boyer on a job well done.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Tonight's projected lineup for some Wednesday night hockey action in New York City.🏒: 8:00pm📺: @NHLonNBCSports 📻: @971theticketxyt #���: #DETvsNYR

View More