Two straight losses with a combined 10 goals allowed have the Detroit Red Wings in one of two places: They're either becoming the projected bottom feeders all of the pundits predicted, or they're in a swoon and can pull out of it.
The Red Wings believe their defeats are just an aberration as they head into Thursday's road clash at the Calgary Flames.
"We're not good enough to come out and just throw our sticks out there and play hockey," said Detroit forward Dylan Larkin. "We need to battle, we need to block shots, the (penalty kill) needs to be good, we need to win battles in front of our net, and we didn't do any of that (Tuesday) and it's frustrating."
The Wings are coming off a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, a game that started on a high with Larkin scoring 30 seconds into the affair.
"I'm not sure what happened. You score on the first shift, you would think that the whole team gets momentum, but somehow we managed to give it back to them," center Frans Nielsen told the Detroit Free Press.
"Not good enough. They just wanted it a little more than us. Special teams, not good enough. Structure-wise we're fine, it just comes down to working harder and competing out there. If you don't compete every shift in this league, you're not winning. Hopefully we learn from it."
The loss wasn't the only setback in Vancouver. Defenseman Danny DeKeyser suffered an upper body injury in warmup. He didn't practice on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day.
The Flames are coming off a strong 3-1 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers, which snapped a two-game losing skid. Calgary, last season's Western Conference regular-season champions, have struggled to find the right form this young season and have a middling record to show for it.
That said, they have put together a couple of solid outings, even in a loss to San Jose before beating Philadelphia. The difference against the Flyers was production from the supporting cast.
"We kind of saw ourselves that there wasn't much scoring from our bottom guys," said Michael Frolik, who scored in his 800th NHL game. "It's still the start of the season and some guys need time to settle in. It's good timing that it happened tonight. Some other guys scored and it's a good thing. Hockey's all about confidence and when those other guys score, it's all about building confidence and getting better. I think tonight was a good effort."
Coach Bill Peters agreed his team is starting to step in the right direction.
"I liked the way we played in the third period. The start of the period we were getting a lot of chances, had a great chance when it was 2-0. ... (Philadelphia goal scorer Matt) Niskanen made a good play in the high slot, but other than that, I don't think we gave up much."
Calgary also suffered an injury scare Tuesday. Second-line center Mikael Backlund blocked a shot with his foot and left the game. He did return but didn't practice Wednesday. Peters said he expects Backlund to suit up against the Red Wings.
--Field Level Media