Penalty kill shines in win against Jets

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY TED KULFAN The Detroit News ted.kulfan@de­troit­ twit­­fan

Detroit — Af­ter hav­ing lost seven con­sec­u­tive games, there were quite a few things to like about the Red Wings’ vic­tory Tues­day against Win­nipeg.

All four lines con­trib­uted at var­i­ous times, and the pas­sion which had been miss­ing over­all, def­i­nitely re­turned.

But one unit that might have gone some­what un­de­tected dur­ing Tues­day’s good times was the penalty kill.

Maybe not a huge sur­prise, con­sid­er­ing how good it has been this sea­son.

But Win­nipeg is one of the bet­ter of­fen­sive teams in the NHL and its power play was ranked third en­ter­ing Thurs­day.

When the Red Wings needed a big penalty kill, they got it.

“It’s an ex­cel­lent power play,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They have two units (but) the first unit of theirs is real, real pow­er­ful.”

The Red Wings saw that unit score, on a patented one-timer by Pa­trik Laine, cut­ting the Red Wings lead to 2-1 while Win­nipeg en­joyed a two-man ad­van­tage.

The Jets still had over a minute of power play time af­ter Laine’s goal. But the Red Wings held. Then on two other Win­nipeg power plays, the Red Wings gave Win­nipeg an op­por­tu­nity to tie the game, only to see the penalty kill and goal­tender Jimmy Howard make a huge stand.

“(The game) eas­ily could have turned,” for­ward David Booth said. “That was the key to the game, there. They could have scored an­other quick one (goal), but we kept our com­po­sure and Howie mak­ing some big saves, or a big block goes a long way.”

Look­ing at Thurs­day’s NHL sta­tis­tics, the Red Wings’ penalty kill has dropped to 10th at 82 per­cent, af­ter be­ing in sin­gle dig­its for a lengthy pe­riod of time.

But it’s been an over­all brief slip.

Af­ter killing 5-of-6 Jets power plays, and do­ing so dur­ing cru­cial points of the game, the Red Wings again showed how ef­fec­tive their penalty kill can be.

“Our (penalty) kill has done a real good job,” Blashill said. “When teams get time to set up in the zone, they gen­er­ally get some (of­fen­sive) chances. But we’ve done a pretty good job on the forecheck, and our killers did a real good over­all (Tues­day).

“Our kill, ac­tu­ally, has leaked out of the top 10, but it’s ac­tu­ally been real good.”

Blashill didn’t want to see his penalty killing unit on the ice so much against the Jets.

But, in the end, it was the Red Wings’ who had the edge in spe­cial teams.

“We took too many penal­ties. One things we said be­fore the game was, dis­ci­pline was a key to our game,” Blashill said. “You don’t want to give that power play too many op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Ur­gency un­der­stood

Gen­eral man­ager Ken Hol­land made it clear ear­lier this week, while the Red Wings were mired in their los­ing streak, that the next 15-20 games will be key to their sea­son.

In re­gard to the trade mar­ket, who could be stay­ing or go­ing, and the Red Wings’ play­off chances.

Ev­ery­one on the coach­ing staff and play­ing ros­ter, and Blashill, un­der­stands the im­por­tance of these stretch of games.

“We’ve un­der­stood the ur­gency from the first minute this sea­son has started,” said Blashill, who dis­missed the no­tion of any larger level of im­por­tance to these games. “I don’t think it ratch­ets it up be­cause we have un­der­stood the ur­gency. Since day one, it has been a play­off game ev­ery game.

“Our guys un­der­stand the ur­gency of these games. We’ve talked it about a lot, about the ur­gency of this home­s­tand. We get it.”

Ice chips

The Red Wings took the day off Thurs­day, an op­por­tu­nity to stay off the ice amid three days off be­tween games in the sched­ule.

… For­ward Dar­ren Helm, on Howard, who re­bounded from dif­fi­cult per­for­mances in two losses to Mon­treal last week: “Howie has been great for us all sea­son long. He’s one of the rea­sons we’re in a lot of games and won a lot of games, be­cause of how well he’s been play­ing.

“We need that from our goalie and we’re go­ing to need that mov­ing for­ward.”

David Gu­ral­nick/Detroit News

Wings cen­ter Dar­ren Helm tries to steal the puck away from Win­nipeg de­fense­man Ja­cob Trouba in Tues­day’s much-needed win.

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