Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is among the majority of folks in the NHL who believe what is said in the locker room should stay in the locker room.
He declined Tuesday to say specifically what he said to his players about Sunday’s embarrassing 11-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s the second time this season the Detroit Red Wings have given up 10 or more goals in a game. That hasn’t happened in 37 years.
“We were writing a story that we could be proud of,” Blashill said. “We were pushing towards competing for a playoff spot and if not attaining that, we were pushing for a better tomorrow. (But) I think for the last bit we’ve taken a giant step backwards in that.”
The Red Wings have lost 12 of their last 15 games, dating to Feb. 23. Detroit will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. The Red Wings have given up five or more goals eight times in those games. They have been prone to give up early goals and then unravel. The Red Wings have the NHL’s worst goals-against average (3.80).
It won’t get any easier Wednesday when they play a New York Rangers. They boast the NHL’s fifth-best record of 42-19-5.
“We have a good chunk of games still left, so our story as a team and as individuals hasn’t been written yet,” Blashill said. “It’s never written until it’s over. . . you don’t really judge a season in a small chunk in either case, so let’s climb our way out of this thing. Let’s start playing better hockey.”
Staal, DeKeyser Might Return
Veteran Detroit player Sam Gagner said Blashill does a good job of trying to refocus the team on how to improve. There’s clearly pressure on Blashill whose performance will be reviewed by GM Steve Yzerman at the end of the season.
“As players, we’ve talked about it, just kind of human nature, everything that’s gone on, we need to do a better job as players of fighting through that and getting better,” Blashill said. “But I think the coaching staff has done a great job of keeping us prepared all year and helping our mindset. We got to keep pushing forward together.”
The Red Wings could get help on defense tomorrow because veteran defenseman Marc Staal could be back in the lineup. He has missed the past two games because of illness. Danny Dekeyser has been on the injured list. Both skated Tuesday.
“I think both of them have an opportunity where depending on some things, they could be ready for tomorrow,” Blashill said. “So we’ll see tomorrow.”
Goalie Thomas Greiss is still out, meaning the Red Wings might have to call up a goalie from Grand Rapids. Calvin Pickard had to leave Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh with an injury.