Khan in the morning: Wings’ defense, forwards weren’t good enough vs. Habs

MLive’s Ansar Khan penned an early-morning article discussing the Red Wings’ difficult 6-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, and the Wings’ need to perform much better lest they drop a decision to the Chicago Blackhawks this evening (7 PM EDT start on Bally Sports Detroit/NBC Sports Chicago/NHL Network/97.1 FM).

The Wings finished at an ugly -26 collectively over the course of yesterday night’s loss, and the Wings’ defense was an ugly -10. Coach Jeff Blashill told Khan that the Wings’ blueline was its weak link on Saturday night, and that he believes the Wigns’ forwards can improve as well:

“When we had opportunities to buy space and make plays underneath, it was good. And then there’s times you just got to make a hard play and battle to get it out,” he said. “I don’t think we had enough guys. I think there’s still more from our group of forwards especially. There’s still more from a number of guys. We need guys playing at their ‘A’ game.”

Defenseman Filip Hronek hasn’t been playing his ‘A’ game, which is why he was scratched, replaced by Troy Stecher, who made his season debut. Blashill said it was a coach’s decision. Hronek and Marc Staal were the only Red Wings to play every game since the start of last season.

“I made the decision to put Stech in,” Blashill said. “Somebody has to come out.”

Staal blamed this game on a lack of execution, not effort.

“We got chippy with the puck, and we were just kind of throwing it without a purpose and they just kept countering us,” he said. “It was like an avalanche. That’s a tough hole to dig out of. It’s different playing on the road in these environments and we need to handle that better. It’s about managing that momentum. It’s about weathering that storm and then counter-punching. We’re going into another tough environment in Chicago. We got to turn this thing around quickly.”

Continued; the Wings’ defense may not have been good at getting the puck out of trouble, but I felt that the Wings’ forwards were very guilty of cheating toward offense, yielding a significant amount of 3-on-2’s and 4-on-2’s for the Canadiens’ forwards.

The line of Givani Smith, Mitchell Stephens and Carter Rowney was also -3 (for a three-player total of -9), so the Wings’ fourth line may need some renovations.

Tonight’s opponent is 0-4-and-1, and may be without Patrick Kane due to some COVID-related issues, but the Wings can’t take the Blackhawks for granted. Chicago has won 10 of the last 13 games between the historic rivals, and Marc-Andre Fleury is 9-and-3 of late vs. Detroit, so the Wings have an uphill battle to fight tonight.

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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.