PREVIEW: Reeling Detroit Red Wings looking for goals vs. Nashville Predators

By Field Level Media
Feb 7, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates the goal scored by center Vladislav Namestnikov (92, not pictured) during the third period against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings find themselves at the bottom of the conference standings due to a fundamental flaw: They can’t score.

When they finished with the worst record in the NHL last season, they averaged a league-low 2.0 goals per game.

Through 21 games this season, they’re averaging a league-worst 1.86 goals per game. Detroit comes into its home game against Nashville on Thursday frustrated and baffled by its inability to generate production. The Red Wings were shut out by the Predators 2-0 on Tuesday.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Red Wings, check out #LGRW rumors, rankings, and news here.

“You want to score and have the puck on your stick to make plays,” team captain Dylan Larkin said. “We’ve played good defense and we’ve had great goaltending. But to win games you have to score goals and we didn’t (Tuesday). It’s frustrating, but you have to shoot pucks, and we have to find a way to get the power play going. Everyone wants to score goals; we have to score goals.”

The Red Wings have been shut out three times and scored a single goal in five other games. Their punchless power play has been a particularly vexing issue. They haven’t scored a man-advantage goal in 13 consecutive games and have just four power play goals all season.

Nashville had nine more shots on goal (33-24) than the Red Wings.

“We were fine structurally. We were fine how we played, but our individual players’ execution and battle level wasn’t good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We needed to execute better. The battle level was fine, but if we’re not close to 100-percent range, we’re not putting ourselves in position to win hockey games. We tried to make plays that weren’t there, and that bogged us down.”

The Red Wings will be wrapping up a six-game homestand. They’re 1-3-1 since returning from a six-game road trip.

Detroit hasn’t scored more than two goals in its last five games.

“We don’t score enough, and we didn’t make it hard enough on (Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne),” Larkin said. “We had some good looks, but not many second or third opportunities.”

The Predators will be seeking their third straight victory. They defeated Columbus 4-2 on Saturday.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Predators, check out #ForSmashville rumors, rankings, and news here.

“Everybody in the room felt good, felt confident after that huge win in Columbus, and I think it showed (Tuesday),” forward Eeli Tolvanen said. “All four lines were playing great, and we didn’t give them much. Our offense was really good, our defense was good, and I think we played a really hard game.”

Tolvanen and Filip Forsberg scored third-period power play goals. The tally for 21-year-old Tolvanen was the third of his career.

“We came on in the third period, played really well, special teams were a big difference in the game, and I felt (Rinne) held the fort when they made a push later in the third,” coach John Hynes said. “It’s nice to see us now be able to string some games together. We’ve played more to the identity we wanted to play with, and it’s good to see.”

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Nashville is finishing off a four-game road swing. It was supposed to play six games but had two postponements due to severe weather conditions in Dallas. The Predators are 2-1 against the Red Wings this season.

–Field Level Media