New York Islander' Frans Nielsen (51) shoots the puck past Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) to score in a shootout of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Islanders won on Nielsen's goal 5-4 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Red Wings’ Babcock: ‘Shootouts are killing us’


Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said there’s interest among his peers to extend the length of the overtime period in an effort to reduce the number of shootouts. He probably wishes that such a change had been implemented for the 2013-14 campaign.

Detroit is on a six-game losing streak and its last three games have ended with a shootout. They’ve now been unsuccessful in four shootout attempts this season.

“It’s pretty obvious we got to win in regulation because the shootouts are killing us,” coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News.

There’s no single reason for their struggles. Jimmy Howard has a .429 save percentage in the skills competition compared to a career .710.

Jonas Gustavsson held the Islanders to one goal during Saturday’s shootout, but they still lost because of the other half of Detroit’s issue. Daniel Alfredsson is the only Red Wings player that’s managed to find the back of the net. Pavel Datsyuk, who has traditionally been one of the NHL’s best players in that regard, has failed in four attempts this season.

“It’s like anything in life, it gets in your head a little bit,” Babcock said. “To me, we got to be hard-headed. We got to be mentally tough and we just got to bring it to a table.”

Those four extra points would have been enough to propel the Red Wings into first place in the Atlantic Division. They’ll try to end their losing streak on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…