Wings suffering from Stanley Cup hangover

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Detroit made it to the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs and lost. Are they now paying for it?

As the Edmonton Oilers can attest to, that's never an easy thing to rebound from the following season.

Yet the Red Wings are trying to bounce back from the disappointment of losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. And they're just a .500 hockey club so far, on the outside of the Western Conference's top eight teams.

"It's something you're never going to forget, there's no doubt," said Red Wings centre Kris Draper, of going to the Stanley Cup final. "It's something they obviously went through here.

"But with us, this is the biggest turnover we've had with players in a long time which helps a little. We lost some great hockey players, we lost some guys that knew what our system was and were able to come out and play it.

"Now we have some new guys and some different personnel, which is something that's a little different."

The Red Wings head into tonight's game having defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Tuesday. They were able to battle back from an early 2-0 deficit and scored the winner with just over five minutes to go in the third. The win was the first of their current road trip and pulled them back up to the .500 mark.

"We've played some good hockey games and haven't been rewarded," said Draper. "In past years we've found ways to win those hockey games and this year, it's kind of gone the other way.

"I still think we're playing pretty well and in the couple of games that we've lost, we've made a couple of mistakes and it's ended up in the back of our net. That's just the way it's been for us."

Having started the season with a pair of losses to the St. Louis Blues, the Wings have been unable to put together a decent string of victories.

Heading into Vancouver, the defending Western Conference champions had dropped three straight. Yet scoring five goals on Roberto Luongo has them in a confident mood going up against the Oilers.

"That game was great," Draper said. "We were able to put some goals up on the board, which was something that was important, not only to win the game but for the confidence of everyone in this dressing room.

"Hopefully now we have something to build on. We've been playing hard, we've been playing well, but when we make that one mistake, it seems like it always ends up in the back of your net."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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