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Red Wings Maatta: “We Got Away From Our Identity”

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Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi's 30 goals are missing from the Red Wings lineup.

The Detroit Red Wings are taking the ice at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday to face the Minnesota Wild as losers of four of their last five games.

Sure, two of those setbacks were in overtime, so there was a standings point gained. Regardless, a loss is still a loss.

There’s no silver lining from these last two defeats, however. Detroit dropped back-to-back games at home to the New Jersey Devils and away to the Boston Bruins by a combined margin of 11-3.

Over the last four games, the Red Wings have surrendered 20 goals and their formula for failure was all too familiar.

The power play was ineffctive. The penalty killing was abysmal. Pucks kept finding a path into the Detroit net.

A former hockey coach used to like to say when his team’s play went south that they’d forgotten what made them famous.

In a sense, that’s exactly what defenseman Olli Maatta sees happening to the Red Wings right now.

“I think the Jersey game we got away from our identity,” Maatta explained. “I think we turned over way too many pucks. We played east west a lot and didn’t get pucks deep and play that fast-paced hockey.

“We wanted to make a couple too many plays and then it just turned into kind of a sloppy game and it showed.”

Red Wings Recipe For Disaster

Detroit can ill-afford to be deviating from the simple gameplan that new coach Derek Lalonde set out to implement in training camp.

“The league’s too good,” Maatta said. “You can’t win that way. I think that was a big lesson for us in how we gotta play.”

The Red Wings will be taking the ice ice Saturday minus ailing forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (30), Jakub Vrana (13), Robby Fabbri (17), and Oskar Sundqvist (8), as well as suspended forward Michael Rasmussen (15). That group accounted for 83 goals last season.

Now, take into account that none of Lucas Raymond (23), Moritz Seider (7) or Filip Zadina (10) has dented twine through the first seven games of the season. That’s another 40 goals missing in action.

Dominik Kubalik and David Perron can’t make up for that amount of loss all by themselves.

It’s why right now more than ever, it’s vital that the Red Wings stay within their blueprint for success, or as they call it, their identity. Right now, they don’t have the capacity to outscore their mistakes.

Detroit Must Stick To Blueprint

That being said, if the Red Wings do stick to their process of playing fast, staying on the right side of the puck and not cheating for offense, they are capable of winning with their current lineup.

That’s a definite upgrade from recent seasons when 2-3 key injuries were all it took to derail the season.

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“Bottom line is we have five of our legitimate top 7-8 forwards out and we can win this game,” Lalonde said. “I think that is a huge positive. This team went through the same type of injuries last year and had no chance. That’s not the case this year.

“We’ll have a winnable lineup (Saturday) and the next person up from Grand Rapids will be a reliable player as well.”

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