Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill bluntly challenged his team to play with increased urgency and intensity as the 2021-2022 season nears its halfway point, and Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen took note of Blashill’s remarks, as well as those of Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin:
Last Sunday, after a loss to the Bruins, Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin made an observation that drew everyone’s attention.
“I really felt when it’s gotten physical we’ve been mediocre,” Larkin said. “We need to have better pushback when it gets physical.”
Larkin asked for more “pushback” and on Tuesday his teammates responded, Givani Smith came out against the Sharks and played physical from the beginning, Michael Rasmussen had one of his best games, making himself difficult to play against.
That’s really what this is all about. It’s not about fighting or roughing up your opponent. It’s about wearing down your opponent, making it miserable for them to play against you. Finishing checks. Being all over them when they have the puck. It’s driving hard to net. Forechecking relentlessly.
“Throughout the lineup we have to make sure we are making the opponent pay a hard price,” Blashill said.
That will be important tonight when the Red Wings start a three-game road trip with a game against the much-improved Anaheim Ducks. The Red Wings have played poorly on the road this season. They own 4-10-1 record in away games. A good road trip might be what they need as they prepare for the second half of the season. The Red Wings are only one point behind Boston for a playoff spot. However, the Bruins have five games in hand.
The problem is the Red Wings aren’t the only team that will be looking to play with playoff urgency. Blashill said players on every team know they have “turn it up.”