Red Wings attempt to turn fortunes around vs. Capitals (Feb 18, 2017)
Although they've only won two of their last 12 games, Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill believes his team has played solid hockey of late.
There's one game he'd remove from that equation, however -- a 6-3 loss on Feb. 9 to the NHL-leading Capitals at Washington. The Red Wings will have a chance to avenge that loss on Saturday afternoon when the Capitals arrive at Joe Louis Arena.
"I don't think there's any doubt we're close, we're close every single game," Blashill said. "You look through the games, anybody that's with us every single night knows that it's a play here and a play there. That's what the reality is.
"I think the Washington game was the only game I didn't like at all. Other than that, we've been there."
Regardless, Blashill recognizes that with his team nine points out of a playoff spot, winning is all that matters at the moment.
"We've got to turn those (good efforts) into Ws," Blashill said. "I know we're doing enough stuff to win hockey games. We've got to find a way to take that next step in them."
The Capitals, who are riding a six-game winning streak, will be well-rested when they arrive in Detroit. They haven't played since a 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11.
Preparing for back-to-back road games at Detroit and the New York Rangers (Sunday), the Capitals recalled forwards Zach Sanford and Jakub Vrana from Hershey of the American Hockey League, giving them 13 healthy forwards. Veteran forward Andre Burkovsky is expected to miss a month with a hand injury.
Washington coach Barry Trotz doesn't like the idea that after a week off, the Capitals have to dive right in against a team that's been playing regularly.
"Obviously, it's the first try at it," Trotz told the Washington Post. "But I think when you come out of the bye week, the first couple games that you play should be teams that are having the bye week at the same time with you because I think your level of play and where you are after a couple games, it's different.
"That would be my only recommendation if you're going to do the bye week."
The players certainly enjoyed their time away from the ice to recharge their batteries for the stretch drive.
"The five days off is good for rest and healing up but we have one practice when we get back and then back-to-back games," defenseman Brooks Orpik told NHL.com. "So you've got to enjoy the rest and use it properly and be professional, make sure you're in tune with your body and getting some good workouts in. If we don't, then we'll get embarrassed the first two games back, that's for sure."
The Red Wings hope to be able to take advantage of some rink rust on the NHL's top team to get a jump on them.
"You've got to try to keep the tempo high and keep the shifts shorts, get momentum on your side right away," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It probably takes a period and then you're kind of in it again. So, if we're going to take advantage we've got to be sharp from the start."