Kulfan, Khan’s notebooks spotlight Wings’ offensive struggles

The Detroit Red Wings open a 2-game series opposite the 3-0-and-1 Florida Panthers tonight and tomorrow (7 PM and 5 PM EST on FSD/97.1 FM), and both the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and MLive’s Ansar Khan filed notebook articles noting the Red Wings’ immense struggles to find offense as significant contributors to the team’s 2-5-and-1 record.

Kulfan noted that the Red Wings feel that they have been unable to generate offensive “zone time” against their opponents, especially during Thursday night’s 7-3 loss to Dallas, where the power play went 1-for-6…

“You get 12 minutes of power-play time, you’ve got to score, and you’ve got to score earlier than that,” [Wings coach Jeff] Blashill said. “We have good entries, are in great spots and then we give pucks away. When we’re in the zone, we’re not executing. We’ve got to find a way.”

The Wings found themselves ranked 22nd out of 31 teams in power play percentage at 14.8% (4-for-27) entering play Friday.

Blashill mixed and matched units in the third period in an effort to ignite any kind of spark, and Tyler Bertuzzi did score to briefly cut into the deficit.

But it was too little, much too late. And it did nothing to erase the images of many Wings on the power play seemingly losing confidence with the puck.

“We’re fighting pucks. We’re not relaxed and not making the plays. We’re forcing it,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “It’s not working. We have to find a way to be dangerous. We have to keep it simple to start, and get a couple of shots and rebounds, bang a couple home. (But) the more we talk about it, the more we think about it. We can’t think about it too much.”

Kulfan continues; Khan focused on the Red Wings’ inability to generate offense without their quintet of COVID absences in Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina, Sam Gagner, Adam Erne and Jon Merrill:

Their absences have contributed to the struggles, particularly on offense, where the Red Wings are tied for 29th, averaging 2.00 goals per game, and on the power play (22nd at 14.8 percent).

Fabbri was centering an effective second line with Zadina and Bobby Ryan. Those three, along with Gagner and Merrill, also played on the power play.

The available players must step up their game.

Anthony Mantha has just one goal and three assists, with a league-worst minus-10 rating. Vladislav Namestnikov has only one point (a goal) and Mathias Brome has no points in eight games.

“If there’s somebody else who can do a better job, we have to keep looking,” Blashill said. “We have to find a way. Those guys have to pick their games up or somebody else has to do the job. We’ll have some guys coming back, but it’s not through the weekend.”

Khan also continues

Update: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz also offered this stat as a tip to sports bettors:

Detroit Red Wings — 1.86 goals per game

The Red Wings are 29th in the NHL in goals per game, managing just four in their three games prior to Thursday’s tilt with Dallas.

Analysis: The Red Wings are probably still a couple years away from playoff contention again, and although they have some young and improving forwards, rarely is this team going to light up the scoreboard. The odds might not be great, but I’d still lean towards betting their team under, or their opponent winning outright.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.