Without their top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
, who is back home resting a sore ankle, and both guys who usually make-up the third pairing – Jonathan Ericsson
(wrist) and Jakub Kindl
(strained oblique) – out for an extended time, opposing forwards have raised havoc with the Wings.
“We haven’t moved the puck good. If you watched our last game we turned the puck over coming out of our zone multiple times just on half-wall turnovers and lack of execution,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You have to execute better and when you’re a team like we are, built the way we are, you have to move the puck on the back, so it’s been a challenge for our guys that way.”
With three players missing the only defensive pairing not affected by injuries has been the Niklas Kronwall
-Brad Stuart tandem, who are a combined plus-1 in the last 11 games. Together, the other four blue liners – Ian White
, Doug Janik, Kyle Quincey
and rookie Brendan Smith
– are a combined plus-2.
One way that hasn’t been very difficult for the Wings in this injury-depleted stretch is limiting the number of shots that their goaltenders have had to face. Overall, the Wings are surrendering 26.8 shots per game, second in the league to the St. Louis Blues at 26.3 shots this season. However, since the injuries began to decimate the roster in late February, the Wings have allowed one fewer shots per game in the past 11 contests.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are battling and trying like crazy, actually fairly good defensively in the fact that we’ve cut our shots down,” Babcock said. “But the reality is that we’ve made enough mistakes that they’re scoring and we’re not putting enough pressure on the other team.”
Babcock wants to see the Wings be harder on the puck and maintain possession through the neutral zone and gain access into the offensive zone with more regularity.
“When you’re not putting pressure on the other team, this neutral zone is just something that you just get through,” Babcock said. “You’re either playing in your zone or playing in their zone and it’s way more fun playing in their zone.”Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill