Blashill: "Museum" Turning Into "Ice Rink" At Little Caesars Arena

The Wings are starting to win the close ones at home.

Will Burchfield
November 07, 2018 - 7:50 am

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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The Red Wings won for the fourth time in their past five games Tuesday night, rallying from a 2-0 second-period deficit take down the Canucks 3-2 in a shootout. After dropping their first four home games of the season, they're starting to find themselves at Little Caesars Arena. 

The arena, meanwhile, is starting to find its voice. 

"We're finding ways to win in this building. I think the building’s been real good, too," Jeff Blashill said. "I think the crowd’s been real good, I think it’s been loud. I think our guys see when we give our group something to cheer for, it can be a real great building, and I think it's been a great building here the last number of games when we’ve won." 

Detroit is 3-1 in its last four at home, including a pair of one-goal wins. These were the kind of games they were losing earlier in the season, not to mention throughout last season. In a league that's never been more balanced, the young Wings are learning how to tip things in their favor. 

(It helped Tuesday night that veteran Jimmy Howard kicked out 40 of 42 shots, plus all three he faced in the shootout.) 

"I think with every win you get some confidence, and we’ve managed to show that we can win these one-goal games here lately," said Gustav Nyquist, who tied things at two early in the third for his sixth point in the last five games. "I think that just builds confidence in the group." 

It also builds excitement in the fan base, which wasn't treated to a whole lot of winning hockey in LCA's inaugural season: just 16 wins in 41 home games. Between the poor product and the myriad attractions in a sparkling new arena, the Wings often found themselves playing in front of empty seats and hushed crowds. 

LCA still has a long way to go match the atmosphere of The Joe, but the fans do seem a bit more engaged in year two. 

"I think as everyone’s grown accustomed to the arena here, they don’t have to go and check out the concourse as much. I think they still like the beers and the food down here in the clubs," Blashill said with a smile, "but it’s not as much of a museum for people. It’s now an ice rink in a real great stadium.

"But I also think part of our job as a team is to give them something to get excited about, so we have to go out there and perform. And I think every time we’ve been in a game that’s close or we’re leading, the crowd’s been great. So let’s be in lots of game where it’s either tied or we’re leading, and we’ll have great crowds." 

The Red Wings rank fourth in attendance this season, per ESPN.com, just like they did last year. The difference, it seems, is a greater number of butts in seats -- or maybe the black seat covers in the lower bowl are having their desired effect. Either way, as the novelty of all the restaurants and bars continues to wear off, the fans will turn their attention to the game. 

Lately the Wings have given them something to cheer for, which is the first step in building any kind of home-ice advantage. Just ask the The Joe.