By: Will Burchfield
@burchie_kid

The Red Wings have had a tumultuous start to the season. They lost their first two games, won their next six, and enter play tonight having lost their last three.

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In the Wings’ defeats, coach Jeff Blashill has noticed two common flaws.

“When we haven’t been as good, there’s two things I’d say. One, we’ve turned too many pucks over coming out of our end, and two, we’ve given up rush-chances against, and you can’t win in this league giving up those types of chances,” Blashill told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket on Thursday.

Regarding his first critique, the Wings are actually a middle-of-the-pack team. They have committed 85 turnovers this season, which is the 18th most in the league. Not bad, at first glance.

But in Detroit’s losses the team has been far more prone to giveaways – and glaring giveaways, at that. Blashill wants to see the Wings take better care of the puck moving forward, especially in high-danger areas.

“The turnover thing is something that I think every team in the league struggles with because everybody’s pressuring so hard. But we’ve just gotta continue to work at it and get better at it so we get out of our end as quick as we can,” Blashill said.

Regarding his second critique, the Wings are flat-out bad. Rush-chances are a hard thing to keep track of, and there isn’t a convenient proxy to account for that, but suffice to say Detroit surrendered enough odd-man rushes for an entire month in its most recent loss to the Florida Panthers.

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Blashill touched on that on Thursday.

“Even the game against Florida, we actually did lots of good stuff but we gave up such easy goals that you can’t win that way,” he said.

The Wings largely outplayed the Panthers on Sunday, outshooting them by a 36-24 margin. But they allowed a slew of three-on-two and two-on-one rushes, four of which resulted in goals against. They lost 5-2.

“You have to make sure you eliminate those rush-chances against, but you can’t play passive doing that. We’re not going to be a team that has success playing passively. We’ve gotta be aggressive, but we’ve gotta be aggressive and above and tight on people,” Blashill said.

The Wings take on the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night at the Joe. Blashill wants his team to play with speed and handle the puck with care.

“When we’re good, we’re managing the puck well, we’re playing fast. By that, I mean we’re getting the puck out of our end, we’re getting in behind people, we’re putting them on their heels. We’re relentless in our approach. We’re on people with pressure, but we’re above them not giving up any out-numbered rushes against. And then in any kind of back-check situations, we’re on them with tight gaps,” Blashill said.

The Wings have allowed the third most shots per game (33.2) and have the worst five-on-five shot-attempt differential (44.7%) in the league. Thanks to Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard, who have a combined .928 save percentage, Detroit has picked up 13 points in its first 11 games.

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“Goaltending’s been excellent overall. Both guys have played very, very well,” said Blashill. “I think we’ve done a better job at times in our own zone of not giving up big-time chances against. I think last year we ended up too many times with guys alone in front. We think our goaltending’s a strength and so we’ve gotta give our guys the best chance to be successful.”