Red Wings-Flames Preview
After a promising start, the Detroit Red Wings have hardly performed at their best in all three phases lately - including half of a road trip - but they'll next face a team that's fared even worse so far this season.
The Calgary Flames' next chance to end one of the lowliest starts in franchise history and worst on their home ice will come Friday night.
Detroit beat its first three opponents by a combined 11-4 margin but has seen that differential reversed in three consecutive defeats, getting outscored 12-5. The Red Wings (3-3-0) have gone 0 for 11 on the power play in those defeats and allowed four goals in 11 times short-handed.
They went 0 for 6 with a man advantage in a 3-1 loss to Edmonton on Wednesday, the second of four consecutive road games.
"We just have to figure it out. It's in the locker room. We know we can play good hockey. We just have to put it behind and play a little better," forward Tomas Tatar said. "We will talk about it for sure. We will see the video, what we did wrong, refocus and we have the next game against Calgary."
The Red Wings will try to begin their turnaround against a Flames team that's 1-5-0 and has lost its first four home games for the first time.
Calgary has been outscored 11-4 in the first two of three straight at home, losing 6-2 to Washington on Tuesday. Karri Ramo was pulled in the second period and sent to the minors Thursday.
Bob Hartley, last season's Jack Adams Award winner, might also shake up the team's defensive pairings if the past two practices are an indication.
"Things aren't working so you've got to change something and try to get the guys going. Anytime you can move up and play a little more or do something different, it's great," Hartley told the team's official website. "Everyone wants to play as much as possible, but whatever a team needs to win, we've got to find a way to do it."
The Flames have never earned fewer than three points in their first seven games. They had three ties and four losses to begin 1995-96, eventually bottoming out at 0-7-3.
They have dropped the past two home games against Detroit - each by one goal - but snapped a three-game overall skid with a 5-2 win in the most recent meeting March 6.
Former Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler had a pair of goals in that victory, but he's pointless in his last three games after collecting two goals and two assists in the first three. Mikael Backlund has two goals and two assists in his last three against the Red Wings, but he's scored once this season.
The Flames are expected to face Jimmy Howard, who is 1-3-0 with a 3.56 goals-against average in his past four matchups. He lost 5-3 to Carolina last Friday after allowing one goal in his first two games.
Calgary's Jonas Hiller is 3-1-0 with a 1.73 GAA in his last four against Detroit.
Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader has four goals and two assists in his past three against Calgary. He has no points in his last four games after totaling four goals and an assist in the first two.