from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
"I think we’re starting to understand each other better, to anticipate each other a little bit more, anticipating where the puck is going to go," Andrew Copp said. "There have been a lot of improvements, but we’ve still got a long ways to go."
A fifth of the way through the season, the Wings show improvement compared to this point last season in numerous per-game averages: Goals for (3.28 vs. 2.83), goals-allowed (3.17 vs. 3.33), power play percentage (20.9 vs. 16.7) and penalty kill percentage (79.6 vs. 77.6). One of first-year head coach Lalonde's best traits is how calm he has been, through the five-game point streak that began the season, and through some doozy mishaps like giving up eight goals in games at Buffalo and at home to the Rangers. He's realistic about the talent the Wings have — or rather, haven't — and complimentary of the determination that has led to being in playoff positioning.
"It's blocked shots, tracking, back checking, getting above plays," Lalonde said. "All those hard things you have to do to be successful. There are nights we are just not going to out-talent a team. I was fortunate to be in Tampa where if we didn’t play our best, our big talent got us through some games. We’re not going to get many of those nights here."...
"There’s a difference between winning hockey and, unfortunately, where they were at the end of last year," Lalonde said. "It was a tough situation — depleted lineup, they had no chance of making the playoffs. What are you playing for? We talk about our ‘why’ in the room all the time, and what was the ‘why’ then? Are guys cheating for points? It’s a little tougher in those situations to put your body on the line.
"Our goal all along was improving our team defense and playing meaningful games later in the year. We’re not there yet, but hopefully we can get there."