On Oct. 21, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. The win pushed their record to a perfect 5-0-0 on the year; in those five games, Detroit scored 18 goals and outscored the opposition by 11.
Then something went wrong.
It started with a 7-1 loss in Washington and continued through last night’s 4-1 loss to Calgary — Detroit’s sixth loss in a row. In those six games, the Wings scored a mere six goals and were outscored by 16.
What’s happening in Detroit right now is bad stretch for sure, but the Wings are maintaining their composure.
It’s true that following the loss to Calgary Dan Cleary called the scenario “a huge embarrassment” and Niklas Kronwall said “it can’t get much worse.” Those might sound like the words of a crew that’s primed for a freak out, but the Wings seem to have enough confidence to assume things will eventually turn around.
And if they don’t, head coach Mike Babcock will remind this isn’t the time to feel sorry for themselves.
“We’re just not scoring easy right now — that’s [six goals in six games] just not enough, especially our team with the names we have on this team,” Babcock told the Detroit News. “[But] you can’t let it snowball on you. You can’t be mentally soft. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. You have to tighten up and put a stop to it.”
Logic suggests this offensive dry spell is an anomaly, especially for the top line guys. Pavel Datsyuk is on pace for 60 points, but he’s been a point-a-game player since the lockout. Henrik Zetterberg is on pace for 30, but he’s never scored fewer than 44 (and that was when he was a rookie.) Cleary is on pace for 22, but he’s averaged 40 a season over the last five years (and posted a career-high 46 last year.) Eventually, you have to figure they’ll bump the slump — and they’ll bump it through hard work, according to Cleary.
“Each guy has to take it upon himself individually to find your game, what your strength is to this team and just bring it,” Cleary told the Detroit Free Press. “The one thing I’ve never had to do is question our team’s work ethic. I truly believe we’ve got good people in here that pride themselves on being good players, and working hard is part of that, if not the most important part. I don’t see that as the problem.”
Breaks tends to play a role in solving these situations as well, and Detroit will get one this Saturday. They’ll host the road-weary Ducks at the Joe — the last game of Anaheim’s grueling seven-game road trip (which the Ducks are 1-2-3 on thus far.)