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Red Wings Wrap: Remainder Of Season Will Test Mental Toughness Of Detroit Players

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Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings coach
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill thinks that his team needs to show more mental toughness.

As they prepare for Tuesday’s game in Edmonton against the Oilers, the fact of the matter is that the Detroit Red Wings are closer to being basement dwellers then they are to being playoff hopefuls.

Indeed, the Wings are only 15 points above the Montreal Canadiens, the last overall team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. They’re 19 points behind the Washington Capitals, the No. 8 seed in the East.

As Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill likes to say, that’s the reality of the situation.

Playing for a purpose is being replaced by playing for pride. And lately, that pride hasn’t really been in evidence. Case in point – a 9-2 home-ice loss to the 32nd-placed Arizona Coyotes last Tuesday in which the team was booed off the ice. Exhibit B – Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Calgary, in which the Wings only tested Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom with five shots over the first 40 minutes.

Both performances were entirely unaccepatable but may be a sign that the Wings are accepting their fate.

“Yeah, I think there’s a human factor to it,” Blashill admitted of his team’s play of late. “You better mentally find a way to grind. We got 20-some games left. We gotta show up every night and play great hockey.

“You never get these games back. I don’t care what our last little bit’s been.”

Red Wings Skid Dashing Postseason Hopes

A month ago, the Wings were just six points out of a playoff spot. A 2-7-1 skid since dashed those postseason hopes.

Blashill understands that a letdown facing their current scenario might be understandable but it won’t be tolerated for long.

“Is there a mental grind to it?” Blashill asked rhetorically. “For sure there is. Is there a toll that wears on you when you’ve gone through a tough stretch and you’re looking up in the standings? For sure there is.

“Is that an excuse? No chance. We gotta be way more mentally tough than that.”

Witkowski Back In Action

Hot: Called up from AHL Grand Rapids, Luke Witkowski played Saturday in Calgary, seeing his first NHL action in 16 months.

Not: Captain Dylan Larkin has one assist in the past five games, equaling his worst skid of the season.

In Case You Missed It

Griffins Slay Wolves

For the first time in the AHL season, the Grand Rapids Griffins didn’t play second fiddle to the team from the Second City. GR worked overtime Sunday to beat the Chicago Wolves. It was the first victory by the Griffins over Chicago since May 8, 2021.

Turner Elson’s OT tally provided the margin of victory in a 2-1 triumph, ending an 0-8-1 skid against the Wolves. It was Elson’s third straight game with a goal. Defenseman Ryan Murphy assisted on both goals, extending his point streak to three games (1-4-5). Elson pushed his point streak three games (3-1-4).

Around The NHL

Boston: Bruins forward Craig Smith is catching fire just as the team is entering the stretch drive.

Philadelphia: Flyers captain Claude Giroux’s next game will be his 1,000th for the team. How many more will he be playing as the NHL trade deadline approaches?

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Montreal: Could Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot be heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Washington: Chicago goalie Marc-Andre Fleury wants to go somewhere with a chance to win. Does that mean a trade to the Capitals might be back on the table?

San Jose: Nine points behind Vegas, the Sharks are channeling their inner Lloyd Christmas and still believe there’s a chance they can make the playoffs.

Vegas: The Golden Knights have lost nine of 12 following a 6-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vegas is 4-8-1 with Jack Eichel in the lineup.

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