Even with a rash of injuries, the Detroit Red Wings possess enough offensive firepower to make most teams jealous.
Right now, though, that offense is underachieving.
Victims of consecutive shutouts for the first time in nearly eight years, the Red Wings look to avoid being blanked in three straight for the first time ever Saturday night when they visit the St. Louis Blues.
Detroit (11-9-4) scored 3.52 goals per game last season en route to a second consecutive Stanley Cup finals appearance, and figured to boast one of the league’s most dynamic offenses again despite losing forward Marian Hossa(notes) to free agency.
The Red Wings are averaging 2.75 goals with Hossa gone and Johan Franzen(notes), Valtteri Filppula(notes), Jason Williams(notes) and Niklas Kronwall(notes) all sidelined due to injury, and the struggles have worsened recently. Detroit has totaled four goals while going 1-4-1 in its last six games, and followed up a 2-0 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday by falling 3-0 to Calgary on Friday.
“We’ve been going through struggles in the past, too, but now we’re not able to get goals,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) said. “We’re getting the shots, getting chances, but the puck’s not going in for us. We have to continue to shoot the puck. We still have the confidence. You can’t get frustrated, you can’t let that get to you, you have to continue to dig in and work hard. It’s going to turn for us.”
Detroit hasn’t scored in 153 minutes, 22 seconds. The Red Wings were last shut out in consecutive games on Dec. 15 and 17, 2001, and they’ve never been held scoreless in three straight.
It’s not as if Detroit isn’t getting chances. The Red Wings are averaging 36.2 shots in their past six games.
Six different Detroit players scored when coach Mike Babcock’s team opened the season with two games against St. Louis (10-9-4) in Sweden on Oct. 2 and 3, but the Blues won both - 4-3 in the season opener behind two goals from Paul Kariya(notes) and 5-3 a day later thanks to a pair of power-play tallies from Keith Tkachuk(notes).
Kariya and Tkachuk have combined for six goals since returning from Stockholm, but lately some balanced scoring and timely goaltending have St. Louis climbing the Central Division standings. Tkachuk, T.J. Oshie(notes), Erik Johnson(notes) and David Backes(notes) all have two goals apiece in the past five games, and the Blues have allowed 11 total goals while going 4-0-1.
Their most impressive victory in that stretch came Friday in Nashville. Chris Mason(notes) made 37 saves and Oshie had two assists as St. Louis won 3-1 and snapped the Predators’ seven-game winning streak.
Nashville had scored a power-play goal in six straight games before going 0 for 5 against Mason and the Blues.
“We knew that they were hot on the power play,” Mason said. “We knew the power play had been a big part of their recent winning streak. First of all, we wanted to stay out of the box. We took a few penalties, but the penalty kill did a great job.”
St. Louis has killed 88.7 percent of its penalties since Oct. 29 - third-best in the league over that span.