The Detroit Red Wings are plodding along at 4-4-1 this season.
So what’s up with these guys?
“We have to continue to improve,” coach Mike Babcock told Detroit reporters after the Calgary loss. “We had opportunities but didn't capitalize. I didn't think we were terrible. But catch up hockey is losing hockey and you can't start from behind.”
Tonight they face a St. Louis Blues team eager to bounce back from two consecutive losses of their own.
“Obviously it's a talented team that's a come off the rails a little bit but we'll probably have a tiger by the tail,” Babcock said. “But we should be the same way. It's two teams that need a win badly.”
Here are some of their nagging problems for the Red Wings:
Taking too many penalties. Top defenseman Nicklas Kronwall has been whistled for 10 penalties in nine games. “I think we haven't adjusted well to the new rules,” Kronwall told the Detroit Free-Press. “They're cracking down on pretty much everything, and that's something for us players that we have to do a better job staying within the limits. Myself, I've taken way too many penalties, putting our team in trouble.”
Poor penalty killing. The Red Wings have allowed five power-play goals in their last season, dropping their season kill rate below 70 percent. You will recall the Blues scored four times with the man advantage in their season-opening victory over Detroit.
“We've got to bear down a little bit more on our clears and make sure every puck goes 200 feet,” forward Justin Abdelkader told the Free-Press. “They've got a good power play, so we don't want to put ourselves shorthanded too much. It's a tough place to play. We've got to be up to the task.”
Goaltending injuries. Poor Jimmy Howard has worn down with both Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Joey MacDonald (back) on the shelf with injuries. So somebody named Petr Mrazek is apparently going to start against the Blues.
Skater injuries. Defenseman Ian White (leg laceration) is back in the lineup, but the Red Wings are still missing defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Brendan Smith (shoulder), plus forwards Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Jan Mursak (shoulder/collarbone).
For more on the Red Wings, Blues and other NHL teams, check out my post on STLToday.com.