The Detroit Red Wings hit rock bottom in a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, last
Detroit — There’s a new contender for the Red Wings’ worst game of the season.
And it might be hard to make this one worse.
The Wings were never quite in the game on Tuesday as the Arizona Coyotes — last in the NHL standings going into the game — easily defeated the Wings 9-2.
“From the start, the pucks just kept coming into the net,” said forward Dylan Larkin. “Everything went wrong.”
This, after the Wings put together another candidate for the worst Saturday of the season, a nasty 6-2 loss at Florida. But it could have been even worse.
It’s three straight losses for the Wings (24-27-6) and six losses in the last eight games, when the Wings have definitely had a tough time in their season.
BOX SCORE: Coyotes 9, Red Wings 2
“We trained hard (Monday) and we were physical against each other, we fought and we didn’t (in the game),” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We just didn’t skate at all, we skated all over the ice, and you have no chance of succeeding when it’s like that.”
The key now for Blashill and the players is to keep this from falling free in the final seven weeks of this season. Every position group, every player and coach, Blashill said, needs to improve.
“I worry about all of us, everybody has to look in the mirror and be better, players, coaches, everybody,” Blashill said.
“I wouldn’t pick any particular area. I would say everyone. We have to defend better. We have to be a lot tougher, we have to be a lot harder to play against. Everyone has to do a better job.”
Somehow, Larkin said, the Wings need to recapture the optimism that was so prevalent for most of this season — but has disappeared.
“We have to get that back or these last two months will be miserable,” Larkin said. “We play a lot of hockey and we have to find the optimism and find a way to come to the rink and play harder for each other and for the fans than we did tonight.
“If we feel sorry for ourselves, it’s going to keep happening. We have to find a way to be positive, think about this game obviously and then work in the last (seven) weeks of the season because it’s okay. be a chore and we can’t let it continue like this.”
As you would expect in a game like this, the Wings were rocked by the boos of the Little Caesars Arena crowd – and rightfully so. There was even a fan who threw a Wings jersey on the ice.
“It’s frustrating, you don’t want to hear that, (but) this performance was boo-worthy,” Larkin said. “I don’t agree with someone throwing their jersey on the ice, but we show up like that at home, we’re going to get booed. We just have to go out and play that much better.
“Win battles, win battles in front of our net and make it look like we want to be there.”
Lack of willpower, lack of skating, were concerning aspects of the Wings’ loss.
“When you work and compete, the Detroiters are sure to support you,” Blashill said. “If you go out and play like that, it’s hard to blame them (the fans) at all.”
The only positive for the Wings: forward Jakub Vrana returned to the lineup after shoulder surgery, played his first game and scored a power play goal.
“He looked good, he’s a guy who can score,” Blashill said. “For the first game in a long time he played well, but it was hard to say in a game like this.”
Robby Fabbri (power play) scored the other Wings’ goal, Fabbri’s 17th goal and third in three games.
But almost every other aspect of the Wings game wasn’t good enough.
The team’s defense, especially down and around their goalie, was shoddy on Arizona’s first three goals, and a few more later.
The Wings have allowed at least five goals in five of six losses over that eight-game streak, including 10 against Toronto and Tuesday’s nine against Arizona. In total, that’s 45 goals conceded in the last eight games.
The offense has dried up a bit, with the Wings scoring just five goals in the last three losses.
And the goalkeepers, although not helped by the defense in front of them, are struggling. Alex Nedeljkovic started on Tuesday, was replaced by Thomas Greiss in the second period, but returned after Greiss allowed two goals on three shots. Nedeljkovic stopped 19 of 26 shots.
Defenseman Gustav Lindstrom was 6 under, Larkin and Lucas Raymond were 5 under on a night a lot of Wings struggled.
Both Larkin and Blashill noticed a lack of confidence from the Wings.
“We weren’t confident with the puck at all,” Blashill said. “We made a lot of bad puck decisions. You want to be successful at the highest level, you have to be mentally strong. Our mental toughness is being tested and we better figure that out quickly.”
Continued: Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana ‘super excited’ to make season debut
Nick Schmaltz had two goals and two assists for Arizona, Jakob Chychrun had two goals, Barrett Hayton had an assist on three goals and Clayton Keller had a goal and two assists as several Coyotes recovered offensively.
Goaltender Karel Vejmelka stopped 26 shots as Arizona (17-35-4) went from 32nd to 31st overall in the NHL.
Veteran Arizona forward Phil Kessel started and played 30 seconds – Kessel also came close to scoring – before leaving the ice. The Coyotes arranged a charter flight for Kessel to return home for the birth of his first child.
Playing the shift, Kessel maintained his consecutive game streak at 956 games. This is the third longest consecutive game streak in NHL history.