Detroit — The results have been alarming, but Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill isn’t losing confidence in his team’s penalty kill.
What has been troubling has been the unit’s lack of effectiveness in weekend games against the New York Islanders and Washington, where the opposition scored six goals on 10 power-play attempts.
Included in that span, obviously, is Friday’s four goals by the Islanders on a late-game five-minute penalty that turned the game in New York’s favor.
But Blashill feels the unit will regain its balance and get back to the level it did the five games previous to the weekend, when it killed 10 of 11 power plays.
“That’s the important part, we had a good penalty kill for a long time, and we have real good penalty killers,” Blashill said.
The return of defenseman Trevor Daley and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm from injuries, which sidelined them in late January, strengthened the penalty kill until last weekend’s slide.
Blashill has confidence in assistant coach Doug Houda’s plan on the penalty kill, and feels the unit simply has to regain some belief.
“We have to get our confidence back, No. 1,” said Blashill, “and understand that it’s kill by kill; we have to go out there and do it right.”
Technically, Blashill does feel the Red Wings have been letting teams too easily set up in the zone.
“Guys have to understand we have to stick to the principles of what has made us good at times,” Blashill said. “We made stands at the line, forced the puck out of the other team’s hands, had good retrievals and sent the puck down the ice.
“The best way for any PK is not let the other team to set up.”
Blashill was pleased with the Red Wings’ determination and work ethic in Washington, especially coming after the late-game collapse in Brooklyn.
Blashill feels it’s the same mindset in regards to the penalty kill, with the Red Wings needing to realize why and how it has been effective for a large part of this season and getting back to why it has been.
“We can (show) a lot of video clips on the PK of where we did it right,” Blashill said. “Part of having a good penalty kill is not taking too many penalties, and no undisciplined penalties.
“That’s part of it as well.”
Many teammates were raving about watching Daley get in the way Sunday of a shot by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin during the late power play.
Daley’s blocked shot injured his hand, and he skated off the ice in obvious pain.
“Iron Man,” forward Tomas Tatar said of Daley’s shot block. “To block those kind of shots, you need to be brave.”
Daley feels it’s all part of winning hockey, and also, just par for the course in the modern NHL.
“Totally different,” Daley said of the shot-blocking mindset today, compared to when he entered the league 14 seasons ago. “The days of guys flamingo-ing and getting out of the way are over. It’s funny, (because) guys are shooting harder now, (but) you have a lot of padding and hope it hits the pads and go from there.
“In order to win games nowadays you have to get in front of the puck.”
Holding and maintaining a third-period lead has been difficult for the Red Wings lately, although Daley has a recipe to cure that.
“Keep doing what got us the lead,” Daley said. “When you get the lead, you have to maintain the reason why you got that lead and just keep doing it.”
… Fathers, or mentors, or friends, were beginning to trickle into town for the upcoming fathers’ trip this weekend, on the road trip to Tampa Bay and Nashville.
Most players have their fathers along for the trip, or maybe an in-law, or former coach, or longtime friend.
Martin Frk didn’t bring his dad along this time, but a former teammate from junior hockey.
“I asked him to come along and he’s real excited,” said Frk, adding the two attended Monday’s Pistons game. “It’s great. Like I said, he’s very excited.”
The trip begins after Wednesday’s practice at Little Caesars Arena.