Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Detroit Red Wings

Wings' focus: 'Win one game'

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Zetterberg scored in Game 3 but is looking to contribute more as the Wings face a do or die game Thursday. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- The Red Wings know the odds are against them but they still believe they can overcome them.

According to Elias, teams that have a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs series have an all-time record of 255-28 or 90.1 percent.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-0 in such situations.

The Wings have been down 3-1 20 times before now and have managed to come back to win the series twice, in 1992 against Minnesota in the divisional semifinals and in 1987 against Toronto in the divisional final.

But the Wings remain focused just on the task at hand.

"Win one game," veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall said after an optional practice Wednesday.

"Our main focus is to win one game and bring it back to Detroit," Justin Abdelkader said. "And if we do that we obviously know that we can turn the series around. But we’re not looking past the game on Thursday."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill used that same single-mindedness to help the Grand Rapids Griffins bounce back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Toronto Marlies in a five-game series in last year's AHL playoffs.

"These aren't miles of differences, these are inches and millimeters of differences that we can be better in these little ways," Blashill said. "That was the process last year and also focusing on the same thing we'll focus on tomorrow and that's winning a hockey game. That's all we got to worry about is winning a game tomorrow, period. There's certain areas we got to be better at, focus on getting better in those areas to give ourselves the best chance to win."

POWER-PLAY IMPROVEMENT: One of the areas that Blashill is clearly referring to is the power play.

The Wings are ranked second-to-last among playoff teams with just one power-play goal in 21 chances, with 22 shots in 35:19 with the man-advantage.

"When things don’t go well you over-think stuff," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "When everything goes you just do stuff and it works out. Now, especially with our power play, we got a lot of opportunity on it but we haven’t got enough goals and we start to over-think everything, instead of making the simple first play, which most of the time is the right play. For us, it’s getting pucks to the net, that’s the mindset. They’re good being in lanes, but it’s up to us to find a way to get it there and go after rebounds and get some ugly ones."

The power play struggled throughout most of the season, but improved during an eight-game stretch in which they scored on 11 of 25 chances.

Blashill was asked about Anthony Mantha, who was on the ice for six of the 11 power-play goals during that time.

"My feeling right now is we don’t feel the correlation is as heavily related as you might looking at that statistic, as I go back and look at the goals that were scored," Blashill said. "It’s obviously a small sample size and I think anytime you have a small sample size with statistics it gets dangerous. So I went back and looked at the goals that were scored and said, I can’t say that’s the direct correlation as to that’s why we had the success at that time, putting it all on his shoulders that he was the reason why.

"I also can’t say as I look at the issues we’re having right now that it’s by any stretch been because of a lack of a job done by Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader, who are in the spot that Mantha ultimately was in."

Of course, some credit has to go to the Lightning's penalty kill, which is ranked second in the league.

Only the Washington Capitals are better, having stopped all 13 power plays they've faced.

The Lightning have been able to get in lanes and block shots.

"Just find a way to get pucks around the net," Abdelkader said. "Obviously they do just a good job of blocking shots and just as much as we can that’s where pucks are gonna go in. It’s not always gonna be the first shot but the second and third chance, I think. We’ve just gotta create some more movement."

VETERAN LEADERS: Zetterberg, Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk are three of the veteran leaders on the team and usually the ones who lead in scoring, particularly Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

Despite leading the team with 15 shots, Datsyuk does not have a point in this playoff series. Zetterberg has one goal on 10 shots. Kronwall has one assist and eight shots.

"I have to do better," Zetterberg said. "I got to produce more. I’m not happy with the way it’s been so far. I got a chance here to improve that."

Said Kronwall: "For me it’s the exact same thing. I got a lot of areas that can improve, at both ends of the ice. I have to be better."

The Wings keep their own proprietary statistics, which they use to evaluate their players.

"I think Pavel was one on scoring chance plus-minus and Z was two in scoring chance plus/minus," Blashill said. "And that’s done, by the way, we weight the Grade A scoring chances at a greater rate than the regular scoring chances. And you then you take their plusses and minuses. So it’s not like they’re not having an impact on the series from their play and their process but we need more production from multiple people, including them."

Datsyuk has only gone without a point once in the playoffs, when the Wings were swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

Zetterberg was held to just one point (a goal) in that same series.

View More