Detroit Red Wings still without Dylan Larkin as they search for their confidence

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BOSTON — A little more than a week has passed since the Detroit Red Wings swaggered away from a road game following a rally to win a close game.

Now they limp into Buffalo to finish a road trip that has left them reeling.

“In Montreal, we just weren’t good, we just played a really bad game,” alternate captain Marc Staal said after Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Bruins. “Boston came out ready to go and played with a lot of pace and tempo and we just caught ourselves defending a lot and then found ourselves in the box. It’s tough to climb out of a whole like that.

“We have to stay positive as a team and look to improve on ourselves.”

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Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal, seated, and Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Boston.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal, seated, and Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Boston.

Captain Dylan Larkin played in the 5-4 loss at Toronto but has been away since then dealing with a personal matter. He was not at practice Friday in Buffalo. As big a part of the team as he is, it doesn’t explain why the Wings have been steamrolled at the start of the last two games. Against the Bruins, they managed just three shots in the first period.

“You’re on the road, teams are going to come out strong,” Staal said. “I think just playing a smart road game with the puck, just being simple, being hard, winning battles down low, all the little things that halt momentum for a home team off the start, we weren’t doing. That’s definitely something we can be better at and get ready to jump on teams early on.”

The Wings have played from behind in five straight games. They seemed to show something on Oct. 27, when they stormed back from a two-goal deficit to win in overtime Oct. 27 at Washington. The Wings then came home and rallied from another two-goal deficit to earn a point against the Florida Panthers.

Now the Wings have lost three straight in regulation, outscored, 13-5, and outshot, 116-68.

“Success is an every day thing in this league,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “You have to be on top of your game every night, and you earn your swagger with how you play. I think the game we lost against Florida, we played well, we battled back and had a chance to win. We lost in overtime. Toronto game was too chaotic. Montreal game was no good. (Boston), we lost on special teams.

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“We’re going to have to wake up tomorrow and find a way to win Saturday. That’s the reality of this league.”

Blashill liked his team’s effort at TD Garden, and pointed out “we got the first power play. We score and we’re not chasing from behind. I didn’t see a lack of readiness. In the end, you have to find a way to score, so we are going to have to do a better job of that.”

Rookie Lucas Raymond has the team’s only goal over the past six periods.

The Wings don’t have to look far back for examples of how much fun they have when they play to their identity. The don’t have to look far ahead, either, for an opportunity to rebuild their confidence, as there are two games on the weekend slate: Saturday in Buffalo, followed by Sunday against Vegas in Detroit.

“We need to play as a team really hard every night to have success,” Staal said. “That’s the recipe for us. We’ll look to get back to that in Buffalo.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: How Detroit Red Wings will regain the confidence they had last week