NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings power play is next step in the rebuild

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

For the first time this season, the Red Wings have taken points in consecutive games.

Detroit fell in overtime to the Blackhawks 3-2 on Monday night, earning just one point but it came on the heels of a win over Nashville on Saturday.

That’s not the funnest benchmark to cross a quarter into the shortened season, but, in a rebuild a team has to take the victories it can find.

Ahead of their Wednesday Night Hockey matchup with the Blackhawks, the next area of focus for the Red Wings has to be the power play.

Detroit hasn’t tallied a man advantage goal since Jan. 28 and have scored just four all season on 53 chances. For rebuilding clubs, sometimes the power play can be the entry point back into contention, taking advantage of being gifted chances while things aren’t working five on five.

The Red Wings haven’t had such luck.

Red Wings power play shot attempts, via InStat

On Monday against Chicago, the Red Wings had just two chances but generated a single shot on goal. Detroit’s 27.2 shots on net per game is the third lowest in the league as it is, which isn’t going to help the second-lowest ranked man advantage in the league.

Detroit’s measly four goals aren’t even the fewest; Minnesota — who hasn’t played in two weeks — and New Jersey — also off for an extended period of time — each have garnered just three.

It’s still a concern, and for a team that’s seen a little bit of progress in other areas, it has to be the next shoe to drop.

[PRE-GAME COVERAGE OF BLACKHAWKS-RED WINGS BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

“Certainly that’s been a continued sore spot,: head coach Jeff Blashill said after Monday’s game. “We have nights where it looks not bad and then we go backwards again. We’ve used lots of different guys in different situations, given a lot of different people opportunities, and not enough people have grabbed it.”

Three of the four Red Wings power play goals have come from Tyler Bertuzzi, who was injured at the end of January. Detroit hasn’t scored on each of its 26 power plays since, and Bertuzzi won’t be back for Wednesday’s contest.

Even with his return upcoming, relying on a single player to carry the entire unit isn’t sustainable.

“We have to find way to get it going,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “I think we’ve done an OK job getting it set up. We just have to find a way to get it around the net. We’re too much to the outside.”

It’s not a lack of chances; Detroit’s 53 power play chances are the seventh most in the league.

Maybe some of their woes come from a lack of netfront presence, despite some clear offensive talent on the roster. Just five shots have been deflected towards net on the Red Wings power play all season, and just three of them have actually reached the goalie.

Red Wings power play deflections, via InStat

A lot of the earlier season power play struggle can be attributed to zone entry issues, but as the charts show, there’s little presence in front of the net even when Detroit is generating shots.

As Larkin said, they’re being held to the outside a bit too much, and certainly not much is coming from the slot.

The Red Wings have started to find a bit of an identity, playing in one-goal, tough contests, even if the results are still lacking. The next step towards meaningful improvement would come from a power play regarded as at least a bit of a threat.

“You struggle between going back to the drawing board and changing things all the time, and then you have no chemistry at all,” Blashill told reporters. “And then that definition of insanity of continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.”

NBC Sports will premiere Doc Emrick – The Voice of Hockey, Presented by Discover – detailing the illustrious career of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and eight-time Sports Emmy Award winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick – on Sunday, February 21 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.