The Detroit Red Wings have checked off plenty of items on their to-do list on their way to a 7-3-2 start. They have won on the second night of back-to-back scenarios. They are in the middle of the pack in dangerous scoring chances against. Last season, they were dead last.
Their power play and penalty killing are both improved. The Red Wings have scored more goals than they have given up. They have given up two or fewer goals in seven of their 12 games.
“Our play on the road has been good but one thing the coaching staff has to figure out is on a game after an off day the team has not responded well,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said after the Red Wings’ 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The reason he brought it up is that the Red Wings had no practice on Monday and will face the Montreal Canadiens at home Tuesday.
Red Wings 0-2-1 After a Day Off
Thus far, the Red Wings have lost all three games this season when a game has followed a day without a regularly scheduled practice. They lost to New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings at home the day after not practicing. (Detroit did pick up an overtime point for taking the Kings to overtime.)
The Red Wings had a optional practice on the Sunday before losing 8-3 in Buffalo last Monday night. Lalonde’s team gave up 19 goals in those three losses. You can argue those are their three worst performances of season.
Lalonde referred to the losing-after-a-day-off situation as a “little trend” that he wants to sort out. “That’s our next challenge,” he said.
Coaches always spend considerable time trying to figure out when to give players days off. The primary reason for days off are to keep players fresh. A weary team doesn’t often give its best performance. But coaches also have to factor in how the schedule plays out and making sure they follow the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules for how many days off players receive in a season.