COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jimmy Howard learned a long time ago to let games like Saturday’s debacle in St. Louis roll off his back.
“That was already gone by the time the game was over with,” said Howard, who gave up five goals in the Wings’ 6-0 season-opening loss to the Blues. “You learn over time, when things like that happen you just have to rebound. Go back out there and give the guys a better chance to win.”
What’s done is done and the Red Wings were back at practice Sunday to prepare for another Central Division game that carries greater importance in this condensed 48-game NHL schedule.
In fairness, Howard was sharp early in holding the Blues to a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. He made 15 saves in the first period and stopped another eight shots in the second, but was pulled from the game after allowing the Blues a 5-0 lead on their first shot of the third period.
“You have to work, it’s as simple as that,” Howard said, following the Red Wings’ 35-minute practice at Nationwide Arena. “We got out-worked in every aspect of the game last night. That was the message out there today. You have to get out there, get up and down the ice and we have to go out there tomorrow night and win battles and try to sustain some offense in their zone.”
The Wings conclude their short, two-game road trip when they face the Blue Jackets Monday night before returning home to host the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena.
While there was nothing positive that came out of Saturday’s loss, coach Mike Babcock spread the blame equally.
“When you teach school all week and you give an exam on Friday and everyone gets 50 (percent), what kind of job did you do?” asked Babcock, rhetorically. “We had a good camp, I thought we had good tempo, I thought we had good battle and I thought we had good structure. We came out and didn’t play last night. … We have to be better. Simple.”
Special teams were an utmost concern for the Wings, who allowed four power-play goals, but were 0-for-5 on their own chances with the man-advantage,
While it’s only one game, defenseman Niklas Kronwall said it’s important that everyone on the team responses with a strong performance this week, which features three games in five days.
“We have to find a way to play a lot better than that. Compete harder. Just play harder,” Kronwall said. “I think everyone in here is pretty ashamed of their effort last night. We have to be a lot better than that.
“We were a step behind. If you're a step behind you're just chasing the whole game. You're not getting anything accomplished. Tomorrow, hopefully we can be in the game and take charge right from the start instead of the other way around.”
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