The Detroit Red Wings are on the verge of matching the longest
home losing streak in franchise history, and now a player who has
been tough for them to stop is coming to town.
The Red Wings will try to avoid a seventh straight defeat at Joe
Louis Arena and fifth in a row overall Friday night when they face
Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Detroit is 0-1-5 at home since beating Columbus 2-1 on Oct. 15,
recording its worst slide at Joe Louis since 1986. The only longer
home losing streak the franchise has ever had was a seven-game skid
Feb. 20-March 25, 1982.
The Red Wings (9-5-5) are wrapping up a four-game homestand
having lost the first three after regulation, and they’ve matched
their worst overall losing streak of the season at four.
Coach Mike Babcock, though, emphasized the positives after
Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Winnipeg.
“We didn’t win but I thought we played good. I liked our game
today, start to finish. We made some mistakes,” Babcock said.
The Red Wings scored twice on the power play, killed off all
three of the Jets’ chances with the man advantage and finished with
a 43-21 edge in shots.
“It’s frustrating,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has nine
points during a six-game run. “It’s tough. We want to win, but
right now we can’t find a way.”
Ovechkin has 14 goals to tie the injured Steven Stamkos for the
Eastern Conference lead. He has points in all eight career games
against the Red Wings, with seven goals and five assists.
“I think teams respect the Red Wings, especially in their
building, it’s going to be a hard game for us,” said Ovechkin, who
has four goals in four visits to Detroit.
The Red Wings are clearly wary of Ovechkin, who leads the NHL
with 5.9 shots per game.
“He can shoot it from anywhere,” goalie Jimmy Howard told the
Red Wings’ website. “You got to expect the unexpected. You know
he’s a shooter and everyone’s trying to get him the puck.”
There’s familiarity between Babcock and Washington coach Adam
Oates, who played for him with Anaheim in 2002-03 – Babcock’s first
season as a coach and Oates’ second-to-last as a player.
“It was his rookie year coaching and it was my last year
basically and we kind of butted heads a little bit at the beginning
but it was more because he didn’t know me and I was an older guy
and sometimes older guys can be difficult,” Oates said. “Once we
got through the first couple months, we hit it off great and he’s a
very good coach.”
Oates has watched his league-leading power play dip to 25.6
percent after going 0 for 7 over the last two games. Washington
(10-8-1) rallied for a 4-3 home victory over Columbus on Tuesday
when Mikhail Grabovski scored with 1:45 left in regulation and
Ovechkin scored in overtime.
The Red Wings will present a challenge since they have killed
off 24 of opponents’ last 25 power plays.
Ovechkin has close ties with Russian compatriot Pavel Datsyuk,
who scored twice against the Jets but has no goals in his last
seven games against the Capitals.
Detroit waived forward Patrick Eaves on Thursday. Eaves played
in just three games and had no points.
The Capitals have taken four of the last six meetings between
franchises that met in the 1998 Stanley Cup finals.