The Detroit Red Wings were displaying a recipe for tasty home cooking as the 2021-22 NHL season got underway. Today, like so much to do with Detroit’s campaign, that aspect has gone up in flames.
The Wings were 11-4-2 at Little Caesars Arena during the 2021 portion of the 2021-22 season. Home ice was becoming a fortress of solitude for the team.
“I think it’s been something that we’ve done a really good job of through most part of this year of playing very well at home for large stretches of time,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Even when we haven’t won, I thought there was stretches where we played really well.”
MIN vs DET, 7pm. #LGRW
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 10, 2022
Signs of what lay ahead were indicated on New Year’s Eve when the Wings fell to the Washington Capitals, greasing the skids for what’s been a dismal 2022.
Detroit is 5-8-1 on home since the calendar changed to the new year. It’s not just that the Wings are losing that’s the issue, however. It’s the manner in which those losses are being absorbed.
Red Wings Skidding on Home Ice
There was a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins and an 8-5 setback to the Chicago Blackhawks. Detroit coughed up a 4-2 lead by surrendering five third-period goals in a 7-4 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that was their least embarrassing loss to the Leafs.
Arguably, though, that’s also not the most embarrassing home-ice loss Detroit has suffered in 2022. On Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes – 32nd overall in the NHL standings and tied for 30th in goals scored – put a 9-2 smackdown on the Wings at LCA.
“It’s disappointing, especially the last few,” Blashill said. “We haven’t been good enough at home. You’re gonna lose some games but you can’t lose them in the fashion that we lost the Toronto game and the game [Tuesday] night at home.”
Eight times in 2022, the Wings have coughed up five or more goals in a game on home ice. They show a 4.64 goals against per game average at home since Jan. 1.
Home-ice success is a character trait of elite clubs. Good teams lock down success on home ice. The top six teams in the NHL standings are a combined 127-30-13 at home this season. That’s a .785 winning percentage.
Wings Lacking Confidence
At home, the Wings are suddenly looking the same as they do on the road – uncertain, indecisive and utterly lacking in confidence.
“When you’re not decisive in your own end it just causes confusion, and when the guy on the puck in hard and physical and everyone can read off that and everyone is moving, it just makes it easier,” Detroit defenseman Marc Staal said. “We just have to get back to basics of playing hard defense and then Xs and Os and whatever.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 9, 2022
“It’s more of just playing the game and reacting. It become a lot easier when each guy is making decision and is confident in his decisions.”
Facing the Minnesota Wild at LCA on Thursday (7 p.m. ET), the Wings may be doing so without 24-goal scorer Tyler Bertuzzi. He’s a game-time decision due to non-COVID illness.
“This building is a momentum building,” Blashill said. “When you’re playing really good hockey, it can give you huge advantages.
“I think we’ve wasted some good home crowds in the last little bit. We gotta get back to finding a way to win games at home. And certainly when you gone through a couple of tough games you gotta get your confidence, your swagger and your mojo back. We need all of those.”