HSJ in the morning: Blashill says Wings must crank up physicality as games become more tightly contested

The Free Press’s Helene St. James filed her morning article today, discussing the Red Wings’ need to step up physically as their schedule gets tougher:

They’ve lost two in a row — at home, no less, where they’re 11-5-2 — and have one last chance to set a better tone at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks before heading out for a week on the road, where the Wings are 4-10-1. It’s getting close to the midpoint of the season, and that means one thing in the NHL.

“It only gets harder as the year goes along and we have to show that we’re a team that belongs in the win column as the games get harder and harder,” coach Jeff Blashill said Monday. “It’s individual players playing at a high level, and making plays at key moments.”

Defenseman Nick Leddy was at practice, which cleared the COVID-19 protocol list.

The Wings have scored two goals their last two games. They were pushed around by the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Eve in a 3-1 loss, and bullied Sunday by the Boston Bruins in a 5-1 loss. When teams get physical — and that doesn’t mean fighting, it means players are checking and grinding and making room for themselves at the net — the Wings’ response has been to take it, not give it back. 

“That’s just a decision that we’re going to match physicality,” Blashill said. “We are going to make the opponent pay a price when they have the puck. There’s been times we’ve passed up some checks. Not all, but some. Throughout the lineup, we just have to make sure that we’re making the opponent pay a hard price.”

Continued (paywall) with discussion of Joe Veleno’s spot on the power play.

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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.

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