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Notes: Wings aiming to limit self-inflicted mistakes

Niklas Kronwall and Luke Glendening do not practice but are expected to play Sunday

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Other teams may beat you but you don't want to beat yourself.

That's what the Red Wings feel they have done too much this season, making mental errors at critical times that have led to losses.

"I think it's self-inflicted," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "It's paying attention to the little details. I think that's what's sort of killing us. We're making a little mistake here and there and it's costing us in a big way. If we can consistently go out there every single shift, every single day and do it right, we'll be fine. We'll start to win. Our luck will start to change."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said that consistent attention to detail is what he's looking for from his players.

"We try to focus on attention to detail in practice, doing everything right every day and we got to continue to make sure we do a great job with it," Blashill said. "That, to me, is the biggest thing. If you don't have attention every day in life you're not going to have attention to detail in every game. Our attention to detail has to be perfect. If it's perfect, we're a really good hockey team."

That attention to detail was evident during the Wings' six-game win streak from Oct. 17-27, particularly in home wins over Nashville and San Jose.

But in the current four-game losing skid, it's gone the other way.

"We just played a full 60," defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "Everybody was in it for 60 minutes and there was no lapses throughout the game. On this losing streak there's been lapses here or there where we've given up easy goals and that's I think the big difference."

That includes Friday night's 5-3 loss in which Winnipeg's Brandon Tanev had a breakaway for the game-winning goal with just 1:16 left in the third period.

Of course, the condensed schedule can mean teams are playing a lot of games in a short period of time with limited practices so fatigue can be a factor.

"At the end of the day we're all human," Howard said. "This game is filled with mistakes. There's no such thing as a perfect game. When you go out there it's just trying to limit those mistakes to the best of your ability."

PUMPING UP POWER PLAY: The power play remains a work in progress.

After an 0-for-3 night against Winnipeg, the Wings are 16th in the league at 17.8 percent.

Assistant coach John Torchetti had implemented a 7-second rule in which the Wings had to get a shot off within the first seven seconds of the man-advantage.

But that doesn't seem to be happening consistently.

"I don't think we're doing a good enough job of having that shooting mentality right off the bat," Blashill said. "That to me sets the tone for the rest of the power play. With that said, we haven't won enough face-offs on it either. That's part of it."

In addition to face-offs, Blashill wants to get better entries into the offensive zone.

"I don't think we've done a good enough job with speed coming in the zone," Blashill said. "Last night was definitely not any better, it was worse if anything, in terms of our speed. So we got to have more speed entering the zone. But it makes it easier on yourself if you can win face-offs. Once you're in the zone, most power plays are somewhat similar, most power plays are pretty good if you spend lots of time in the zone. But you've got to make sure you either stay in the zone or get in the zone."

MAINTENANCE DAY: Niklas Kronwall, who missed the first 11 games due to chronic knee issues, did not practice Saturday.

Luke Glendening also missed practice.

Blashill said it was a maintenance day for both players but he expected them to play in Sunday's game against Edmonton.

OILERS COMING IN HOT: Sunday night the Wings will face the Edmonton Oilers, who started Saturday tied for first in the Western Conference with the Chicago Blackhawks with 15 points. Howard is set to start against the Oilers (7-3-1).

"They're extremely fast and they transition really well from defense to offense," Howard said. "They get through that neutral zone and they get on top of you. We're just going to have to take away their time and space. They've got a lot of talented players up front and they can make plays."

In his career against Edmonton, Howard is 13-1-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts. The 13 victories are tied for the most Howard has against any team.

He also has 13 wins against the St. Louis Blues.

Young Edmonton captain Connor McDavid is tied for second in the league in points with 13, behind Chicago's Artem Anisimov, who has 14.

"He plays a lot, so anytime anybody plays that many minutes he's going to have a big impact on the team," Blashill said. "I think at an early age he's established himself as a guy who is about to take the team to another level, so we're going to have to make sure we do a good job of … you never shut guys like that down, but you got to make sure you contain him the best you can."

But you can't have too many players commit to McDavid, because then he'll just find an open teammate.

"They've had lots of good draft picks and they got other real good players," Blashill said. (Milan) Lucic is on their line and he was one of the most sought-after free agents. (Jordan) Eberle is a consistently good player. So that's just that line … they got other lines, (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins and (Leon) Draisaitl and you just go down the list. There's lots of guys that are good. But certainly you have to be aware of match-ups. With McDavid, particularly because of his speed, his speed is such that you got to make sure you can skate with him."

The Oilers play the New York Islanders Saturday in Brooklyn.

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