Heading home for a stretch where they play 13 of 15 at Little Caesars Arena, Detroit Red Wings bench boss Jeff Blashill says there is “zero excuse” for not winning tonight writes MLive’s Ansar Khan. After getting pushed around by Calgary Thursday night, Detroit looks to get back on track against a Columbus team mired in a four game winless streak. The goal for the Red Wings are to return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, and this stretch of hockey with games predominantly at home serves as the best chance to get a good jump on it. Currently sitting 8-8-1, impressive forward Anthony Mantha added that the team needs have at least a .750 or .800 mark during the stretch at home.
- Speaking of Mantha, Khan reports that the goal-scoring forward is developing into a more complete player in his second NHL season. Dogged early in his career for lack of effort, Mantha has risen to the occasion, leading the Red Wings in goals and points through Friday. Blashill says that the 22-year-old is very motivated and is skating harder now than he had previously with the team.
- The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine writes that the Blackhawk faithful are keeping their hopes up that Chicago will turn things around soon. Hine likens the current slump to a “crisis of faith” as they’ve struggled to score goals, registering just 12 goals in the last seven games. The culprit, Hine writes, are the “big money” players not getting on the score sheet regularly. He singles out captain Jonathan Toews (4-6-10), Brandon Saad (6-3-9), Patrick Kane (5-9-14), Duncan Keith (0-8-8), Brent Seabrook (1-4), and Patrick Sharp (2-2) as those players. Kane hasn’t scored in seven games while Saad is goal-less in his last ten games. Head coach Joel Quenneville has been toying with lines, trying to find the right combination to break the scoring drought.