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Red Wings Need Sharper D Coverage to Give Lyon a Chance



Jake Walman, Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde named Alex Lyon to be the starter — not necessarily the savior – for Friday’s home game against the Nashville Predators.

Lalonde doesn’t want anyone thinking goaltending is the reason for a 2-8-1 slump that has included a 4.36 goals-against average.

“This has not been on our goalies,” Lalonde said. “James Reimer got us to 2-2 in the third (against Minnesota). Even (Michael Hutchinson) the other night got us 2-1 up in the third. Very frustrating that it’s similar type egregious mistakes.”

The Red Wings’ defensive coverage has ranged from inconsistent to embarrassing. The Red Wings gave up too many quality scoring chances in the 6-3 loss to the Wild.

“We probably out-chanced them, but the Grade As – the breakaways, the two-on-ones, the self-inflicted plays – it was almost 2-1 for them. Obviously, tough on our goalie,” Lalonde said.

Edvinsson Sent Down

Lalonde put his team through a hard practice with the hope of cleaning up their defensive coverage. Injured defenseman Jeff Petry and Olli Maatta will be available to play tomorrow. Simon Edvinsson has been sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins after two games with the Red Wings. Injured forward Joe Veleno couldn’t finish Thursday’s practice and won’t play against Nashville.

While the Red Wings may be sharing the blame for the bloated goals-against total, they are nonetheless happy to have Lyon healthy again. Detroit’s team save percentage is .899, but Lyon’s save percentage is .932 in seven appearances. He boasts a save percentage above .900 in four of his last five starts. His GAA is 2.14 for the season. That’s far different than the team GAA of 4.36 over the past 11 games.

Red Wings Need Urgency

The Red Wings undoubtedly are talking about the urgency required to get themselves back in a playoff position. As of this morning, they are three points out of a wild card position in the Eastern Conference. The Washington Capitals, who have the last spot, have three games in hand on Detroit.

“Urgency’s a weird thing, desperation’s a weird thing,” Lyon said. “It’s one of those things that’s almost an acquired skill. I think every team has to find that identity throughout the year of what motivates us. I think everybody kind of goes through that, whether you’re the reigning Stanley Cup champion, or last in the standings. I think we’re just trying to kind of work our way through that right now.

But Lyon, who helped Florida land the last postseason spot in the East last season, doesn’t feel like he’s under any added pressure.

“You can’t think like that,” Lyon said. “It’s not a healthy way to think. It’s like golf where the harder you try, the worse it gets. You’re gripping it. So there’s that sweet spot of trusting yourself, working very hard but also kind of having a feel for the bigger picture. The vibes and stuff like that. You get better at it with experience. It’s obviously never easy. If you go into any game or situation thinking that it’s gonna be simple and easy, that’s when you get smacked in the face. You have to go in with full preparation, with that killer attitude and just keep going.”