Hurricanes-Red Wings Preview

The Associated PressNovember 21, 2013

Coach Mike Babcock wants the Detroit Red Wings to relax, particularly at home. That hasn't been a problem when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town.

The Red Wings will try to heed Babcock's advice and avoid their longest stretch at home without a win in nearly 28 years Thursday night.

Detroit (9-6-7) has dropped eight in a row on its own ice (0-2-6), putting the team on the cusp of its longest winless stretch at Joe Louis Arena since it went 0-8 with a tie Feb. 8-March 20, 1986.

The Red Wings' overall slide has reached seven (0-2-5), and they last went eight straight without a victory Jan. 12-30, 1991 - a stretch that also included one tie.

Babcock feels there's a simple solution to ending the funk, which continued with Tuesday's 2-0 loss to visiting Nashville.

"Breathe, just play," Babcock told the team's official website. "We have to get back to playing. We've had tough stretches every year that I've been here, and as much as you have to work real hard and compete real hard, it's still not 'work' hockey; it's 'play' hockey.

"It appears to me that we're over-thinking."

Detroit is averaging 1.63 goals during the eight-game slide at home after scoring 2.75 in winning three of its first four there.

"This is adversity," right wing Daniel Cleary said. "We're a team that prides ourselves on being a great home team. When teams come into The Joe and they're saying it's a hard game for them, we have to get back to that."

A visit by Carolina (8-9-4) presents Detroit with that chance.

The Wings are 15-0 with a tie in the last 16 regular-season meetings at home dating to a 3-0 loss Nov. 14, 1989, when the Hurricanes were the Hartford Whalers.

Detroit has won five of six overall in the series, including 3-2 at Carolina on Oct. 4 on Stephen Weiss' goal in overtime. Weiss, though, is expected to miss a sixth straight game with a groin injury.

Daniel Alfredsson also has an injured groin that will likely keep him out for a fourth game in a row.

Henrik Zetterberg doesn't have a point and owns a minus-3 rating over the last two home games, but he's routinely been on the score sheet against the Hurricanes. He has nine goals and three assists in 10 career meetings, and that includes five goals while setting up two others in four at home.

The Hurricanes have lost four straight on the road, falling 4-2 to St. Louis on Saturday before Monday's 4-1 home defeat to Boston.

Cam Ward might be in net looking for a better start. He gave up two goals on the first four shots by the Bruins before stopping 24 of the next 25 in his first appearance since missing 10 games with a leg injury.

Ward has lost all three of his appearances at Detroit behind a 4.36 goals-against average.

That could be reason enough for coach Kirk Muller to opt for Justin Peters, who is 4-1-1 with a 1.45 GAA and one shutout in his last six games.

"We can't use these games to get fine-tuned. It's not exhibition anymore," Muller told the team's official website. "We've got to win hockey games. So if you step in, you have to step in with the mindset that you can win the hockey game."

Eric Staal has two goals and one assist in the last three games. He was held without a point against Detroit last month after having five assists in the two previous meetings.