Red Wings try to ignite their power play

POWER PLAY: Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco (26) battles for the puck against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. (Detroit Free Press photo)

POWER PLAY: Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco (26) battles for the puck against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. (Detroit Free Press photo)

DETROIT — Power plays made up the bulk of Monday’s practice for the Detroit Red Wings, who have come up short in that area for three straight games.

They take a seven-game point streak up against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, but it’s not as weighty a streak as possible because of a recent trend of surrendering leads. Sunday was the latest example; the Wings ended up losing in overtime, which probably could have been avoided had they converted on either of their two third-period power plays.

“It hasn’t been good enough here for a while,” Jeff Blashill said. “We want to get back to the basics a little bit on our power play, and hopefully it has a positive impact come tomorrow night,”

The Wings are at 15.8 percent overall on power plays, one of the worst conversion rates in the NHL.

Blashill announced Petr Mrazek will start for a second straight game, and that Jimmy Howard is slated to start Thursday. Brendan Smith is back in, bumping Jakub Kindl. Darren Helm is back on a line with Pavel Datsyuk. Blashill is also putting Teemu Pulkkinen back in, on the fourth line, and pulling Tomas Jurco. Jurco didn’t distinguish himself during Sunday’s game, which marked his reappearance after a conditioning stint in the minors.

Going back to Pulkkinen makes sense, because he has a tremendous right-handed shot. Pulkkinen practiced on a unit with Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Mike Green, while the other power play group had Henrik Zetterberg with Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Brad Richards and Niklas Kronwall.

The Wings, at times, pass the puck around so much, they can go an entire power play without registering a shot on net.

“We are passing up some shots, and maybe overplaying it,” Nyquist said. “We take a couple more passes instead of just shooting the puck. So we have to go back to shooting and getting second and third opportunities.

“We need to be able to close teams out. That means better defense, but also getting that extra goal. It has been an issue for us all year, scoring goals, and I think that is more of an issue than letting up a goal.”

Blashill referred to it as “deliver it to the net. That can be a shot, that can be a shot-pass, that can be a play down to the guy net-front and him jamming it. Somehow deliver it to the net and create more chaos and people at the net.”

It is a little bit unusual that a guy who leads a team in goals, as Dylan Larkin does the Wings with 10, is not on the power play, but he was part of a unit earlier, and has one power play assist to show for it.

“We need to make sure we score on the power play,” Blashill said. “He has been a great 5-on-5 player for us. The other thing we want to do is get him some reps on the penalty kill as well.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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