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Notes: Red Wings must pick up scoring pace

Offensive struggles go far beyond power-play woes

by Arthur J. Regner and Dana Wakiji @ArthurJRegner and @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- During their current four-game slide, the Red Wings have been in a miserable scoring drought.

Detroit is averaging 2.38 goals per game, placing the Wings in a tie with the New Jersey Devils for 27th overall in the NHL.

The Wings' power play is succeeding at a 9.5-percent clip, which ranks 26th in the league.

Perhaps the most alarming is Detroit has only had 21 power-play opportunities in its eight games played and only three Red Wings have notched power-play points.

Anthony Mantha has both of the Wings' power-play goals, with Taro Hirose and Dennis Cholowski picking up the assists on the goals.

"It (the power play) hasn't been good. I thought early, it was good and we weren't scoring. We had a lot of opportunities," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after Monday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "I thought the puck speed was excellent, I thought we were shooting the puck, I thought we were coming, I thought it was pretty good.

"Right now, the power play's not good enough. It doesn't look good. It starts with winning more face-offs and that's not on one guy, it's not on the centerman, it's on all of them. We have five, they have four, you have to find a way to win those battles and win the face-off. Our break-ins haven't been as good.

"But the one thing I've really thought is we have to have way more puck speed, we have to shoot it or move it quick, get it back, shoot it, move it quick, one of those two options. Right now, we've slowed it down too much and as a result, we've almost trapped ourselves sometimes and then unforced turnovers happen and then you're back chasing it again. The only other thing I'd say is we haven't had very many of them. It is real hard to get a confident rhythm going if you don't score on the few that you have. So we need to draw more penalties."

Defenseman Mike Green, a power-play aficionado throughout his career, believes it comes down to a simple staple of the game.

"I can't pinpoint one thing, you know, put the puck in the net, that's the difference," Green said. "So, we've got to find a way and we will."

Green wasn't being flippant, he's aware the Wings need to score -- not only on the power play, they need to pick up the scoring and the intensity as a whole.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We're taking one game at a time and that's no different tomorrow."🗣��� Green | #LGRW

"Collectively as a group, you have to reel it back in and really find that sort of unity we had coming out of the gates at the start of the season. We've got to get that urgency back," he said. "It's tough. We're 10 games in and you get your ups and downs (but) the key to this league is consistency and being able to fight through those times when you don't feel that great.

"Unfortunately, in this league, you just can't turn it on, it takes some time to build up, build up. Right now, we have to make sure we keep building and get better."

Blashill doesn't like to dwell on the past, he is focused on the next game and what his team needs to do to win. He bristled when asked if he's disappointed the Wings couldn't build off their impressive road victory against Montreal; instead Detroit has dropped four straight games.

"I'm not disappointed. Sure, you don't want to go on a four-game slide. All I'm thinking about right now is tomorrow night's game. I'm not looking back, those games are all over," Blashill said. "There's not one thing we can do about it. What we can do about it is play great hockey tomorrow. That's all we're focused on is look ahead and try to play great hockey, that's it.

"The Montreal game, were we good? Yes, we were good. Again, we scored goals. They scored, we came back and scored. We have to find a way when the game's tight to keep the score in a manageable spot. That's what happened in Van (Vancouver) and that's what happened in Calgary, we couldn't keep it in a manageable spot."

If the Red Wings can pick up their scoring, they obviously give themselves a chance to win and compete on a daily basis but saying they must score more and actually doing it is a difficult task, especially when the team has gone into a collective scoring slump. Detroit has scored only five goals during its four-game losing streak.

"The one thing we did earlier in the season that we haven't done certainly in the last three games was score. You come out and play pretty good, you don't score, then they score. You keep kind of playing pretty good and they score again, then all of a sudden, they score again and you're like, holy smokes. You have to find a way to score some goals," Blashill said. "Momentum, I've said it tons, momentum in a game is a huge thing and so is confidence. When you score, you give yourself momentum and you give yourself confidence. We kept that game at 2-1, that goal at the end of the second was huge for us against Edmonton. It gave us a chance to go out and find a way to get chances in the third. We didn't end up tying it but we certainly had chances.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We've gotta find a way to score more goals without sacrificing ourselves defensively and that's been the challenge we've had here."🗣��� Blashill | #LGRW

"We've got to find a way to score more goals, that's just the reality, without sacrificing ourselves defensively and that's been the challenge we've had here is being able to do both. I can't say that the game against Nashville, the game against Dallas, that we were a whole bunch better through the first two periods than we were, let's say against Calgary. But in the end, we didn't score on our chances in those games. We did in the Nashville and Dallas games. We have to find a way to score more goals."

Green feels the Red Wings need to approach each game the same way, regardless if the team is battling through a four-game skid.

"We're not happy here with the four games, but we've got to move on here and worry about our next game, we've got Vancouver coming up and they took it to us about a week ago and we're going to make sure we do everything possible to get our two points tomorrow," Green said. "That's our mind frame every night, it's easier said than done, but at the end of the day, it's all about getting your two points and winning, the points you can get here early on in the season you get into that flow and in mid-December and January you start to play really good hockey and you put yourself in a really good position.

"We're taking it one game at a time and that's no different tomorrow."             

INJURY UPDATES: Cholowski, who was a late scratch in Edmonton Friday, did not practice on Monday.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Back home.Back to work.

"There's a chance that he'd be available tomorrow," Blashill said. "That would still be a decision on whether it's the right thing to play him or not. He hasn't practiced for three days now. But I'll know more on that this afternoon. But it looks like he has a real chance to be available tomorrow or Wednesday."

Cholowski took everyone by surprise as he participated in Friday's optional morning skate.

"It was the game before (when he was hurt) and just as the day went, he informed us just before warmups," Blashill said. "So we didn't know, I didn't know anything about it until just before warmups."

Forward Adam Erne, who suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday in Vancouver, did not play Thursday in Calgary but returned to play Friday in Edmonton, and also did not practice Monday.

"Erne, I'll know more tomorrow," Blashill said. "I don't have an answer. Could be a minor thing but I don't know that for sure."

ERICSSON GETTING CLOSER: It has not been an optimal start to the season for veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

Ericsson has not played in the first eight games of the season after dealing with more than the one issue that happened during the skate test after training camp.

"I felt it right away and then I didn't think too much about it." Ericsson said. "I could finish the test and all that. Then we waited like 30-40 minutes until practice and then in practice it kept getting worse and worse."

Ericsson has had hip trouble for years and this is all connected to that.

"I think it was after five days it started to feel pretty good off the ice and then on the ice it just felt so much worse right away," Ericsson said. "My back started seizing up, something in the hip that's going on. My back started acting up because the hip bone was pulling my back. I can't really explain everything but there was a lot going on there."

However, Ericsson did make the western Canada trip and was able to practice with the team.

"I feel close right now," Ericsson said. "It's been feeling way better each day I've been skating. On the road I was skating every day. I started to feel way better on the ice. Obviously, it's tough to practice for the games, it's not the same thing, whatever you're doing. Practicing is not the same, so it's going to be a big adjustment."

Although you can't replicate game speed in practice, Ericsson is looking forward to getting into a game soon.

"I can't wait to play a game," Ericsson said. "After what happened last year, I just want to stay healthy and play some games without a grind."

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