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First Period Foibles Foiling Red Wings

Detroit has been outscored 7-1 in the first period of the past seven games



Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings
Lucas Raymond is the only Red Wings player to score a first-period goal in their last seven games.

Seven is supposedly a lucky number, but don’t go trying selling that bill of goods to the Detroit Red Wings right now.

Over the past seven games, Detroit has been outscored 7-1 in the first period. The Red Wings are 2-4-1 during this seven-game span of slow starts.

It’s a puzzling development that has the team perplexed, to say the least. Being better in the first period is certainly foremost on their minds at the moment.

“I think we’re still trying to figure out, but hopefully we can figure it out sooner than later and get some better starts in the next couple of games,” Detroit center Joe Veleno said. “I think (Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens) is a good test. It’s a good time to start off playing in the first period.”

And, as the old saying saying suggests, it would be a good time for the Red Wings to start on time when the game gets underway at 7 p.m.

On Oct. 22, also at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit was jumping out to a 2-0 first-period advantage en route to a 6-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames. Since then, the framing of the opening frame has been anything but pleasant for the Red Wings.

They fell being 2-0 in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Likewise, there was a 2-0 first-period deficit in a 4-1 loss at Boston. They held the New York Islanders to a scoreless tie through the opening 20 minutes. The Wings would fall behind 2-0 before rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory.

Another scoreless opening frame came to launch a 2-0 defeat to the Florida Panthers. Facing the Bruins against, Boston raced to a 2-0 advantage, but Lucas Raymond scored at 16:20 of the first period – Detroit’s only first-period tally over the past seven games. The Wings also came roaring back to win this game 5-4.

Things really hit rock bottom in Tuesday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Down 1-0 after 20 minutes, the Red Wings found themselves eventually trailing 5-0 in what would be a 5-3 setback.

Red Wings Must Keep It Simple

The tendency for a team in trouble is to try harder, when in fact, playing smarter is what will lead to a solution.

“We need to simplify our game,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “The Florida and the Rangers games were very similar in that we didn’t give up a ton, but they got to the simple game like we wanted to.

“They just got pucks north, they established a forecheck, they get pucks on net and then they created races. … So, you’re frustrated that we’re not getting results but there’s something real about what the Rangers did last night. They got a ton of zone time, creating rebounds, slicing everything on net, they made us defend.

“They won that period on the scoreboard, but won that period territorially. So, I think we have to do similar in our next approach.”

Lalonde also feels that there’s been instances during this stretch of poor starts where luck simply hasn’t been on Detroit’s side.

“It’s real, the analytics, just simple goals for, goals against,” Lalonde said. “It’s been tough to read because if you look at, take our last handful of games, Islanders, great first period, came out zero goals. Boston the other night, great first period, find ourselves down 2-1.”

All About Starting On Time

The Red Wings know when the puck will be dropping tonight. For them to rectify their current ailment, it’s all about dropping a beatdown on the Canadiens from the get-go.

“I think it’s just mentally we gotta be ready from the puck drop,” Veleno said. “Sometimes our chances are there. Sometimes the puck just doesn’t go in. I think we just gotta be ready as the puck drops.

“There’s stuff that we gotta clean up in our game. It’s too bad that other teams are capitalizing early on us and we start getting away from our game a little bit. But I think we gotta do a better job of starting on time.”