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  Everyone Contributes to Detroit's Success
By Benjamin Jennings
Washingtonpost.com Correspondent
Sunday, February 1, 1998


Detroit's Brendan Shanahan
Shanahan scores Detroit's third goal
(Rich Lipski/The Post)
WASHINGTON — Detroit turned up its defensive effort in the last 10 minutes of the game Sunday to hold on to a 4-2 victory over the Capitals. Brendan Shanahan, who netted two of the goals including the game-winner, said that even though the Red Wings are missing many players, they have a lot of different guys that can step up and play well.

"We were playing pretty well this game," Shanahan said, "but [Washington goalie] Olie [Kolzig] is hard to score on, and when we got the lead, we just played our [defensive] system.

"We've got a unique team with our depth. Vlady [Vladimir Konstantinov], Sergei [Fedorov], and [Mike] Vernon are gone and Steve [Yzerman] and other guys are injured, but we're a well-rounded team and guys are ready to step up."

Red Wings center Igor Larionov agreed.

"We are trying to play our game and even though key players from last year's team are missing, we have a team full of guys trying to contribute," Larionov said.

And many players are indeed contributing. Sixteen different skaters have scored at least one game-tying or game-winning goal. Also, Detroit leads the NHL in goals scored with 170, but no Red Wing is currently in the top 20 for individual point production.

Second year defenseman Anders Eriksson said young guys like Jamie Pushor, Aaron Ward and Mathieu Dandenault have stepped up to fill the holes.

"We're getting a contribution from everyone and we count on everybody to play and play well."

But playing well has become a little more difficult this year after Detroit's Stanley Cup win last season.

"Everyone sizes us up," said former Capital Larry Murphy. "Each team is prepared to play challenging games against us, which helps us in the end."

Murphy also said that the games are harder because of the defensive systems teams are employing. Assistant coach Dave Lewis agreed with Murphy, and said the game needs to be tweaked to increase scoring.

"Obstruction has to be eliminated by calling every holding and interference penalty," Lewis said. "Also, the goalies are using very large equipment that takes up a lot of the net. But I'd like to see bigger nets instead of decreasing the size of the equipment because goalies have to wear what they feel comfortable with."

Shanahan disagreed with Lewis, and said that teams have committed to preventing goals and that the scoring drought is just a trend.

"Every time a trend develops, there is no need to change the game," Shanahan said. "Ten years ago, players were lamenting the 1950's and the 3-2 and 2-1 games. Changes were made to limit offensive advantages and teams found better ways to defend. It will all work itself out when teams commit themselves to offense."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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