The Detroit Red Wings extended their streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 23- the longest active streak of the “big four” sports. Moving over from the Western to the Eastern Conference, the Red Wings had a 39-28-15 record for a total of 93 points. They were the last team in the East to qualify for the playoffs and were 7 points back of Montreal for an automatic Atlantic Division playoff bid. In a tough first round matchup against the President Trophy winning Boston Bruins, the Wings lost 4 straight after winning the opening game of the series.
With a 22nd-ranked offense in 2012-13, Detroit made some big moves to bolster their scoring by acquiring Daniel Alfredsson (1 year, $5 million) and Stephen Weiss (5 years, $24.5 million) on July 1st. With a strong, deep core in place and a move to an easier conference to play in, Detroit was expected to be among the elite in the East, just behind the likes of Boston and Pittsburgh.
- At 24 years of age, Gustav Nyquist emerged with 28 goals in just 57 games played (which projects to 40 goals in an 82-game season). Nyquist was among the elite scorers during the second half of the season and it is tough to picture the Red Wings making the playoffs without his scoring surge.
- With 421 man games lost to injury this season, the organizational depth of the Red Wings was put on display. With 12 players called up from Detroit’s AHL affiliate, you can really draw a lot of comparisons to Ottawa’s 2012-12 season. Aside from Nyquist, inexperienced players like Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, any Danny Dekeyser really stepped up to replace a slew of key players in the Wings’ roster.
- The Red Wings were tied with Chicago with the most Olympians on an NHL roster with 10. Detroit players that were selected to represent their country in Sochi were:
Pavel Datsyuk (Russia), Tomas Jurko (Slovakia), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Jonas Gustavsson (Sweden), Jonathan Ericsson (Sweden), Niklas Kronwall (Sweden), Daniel Alfredssn (Sweden), Johan Franzen (Sweden), Gustav Nyquist (Sweden), Henrik Zetterberg (Swden), and Jimmy Howard (United States).
- The theme of the Red Wings’ season was certainly defined by the injuries. When looking at the list of injuries Detroit suffered throughout the course of the season, it is certainly devastating. Players that missed substantial time for the Wings include: Henrik Zetterberg (45 GP), Pavel Datsyuk (45 GP), Johan Franzen (54 GP), Daniel Alfredsson (68 GP), and Darren Helm (42 GP).
- During the first year of his six-year $31.75 million contract, Jimmy Howard was certainly inconsistent to say the least. He had mediocre marks of 2.66 GAA and .910 SV% and only managed 21 wins in 50 games started.
- Like the rest of the team, Detroit’s major free-agent signings of Alfredsson and Weiss were struck with injuries. Although Alfredsson led the team in points, he missed 14 games due to injury. Meanwhile, Stephen Weiss managed to play just 26 games in his first season in the Motor City, putting up just 4 points.
PROGNOSIS FOR NEXT SEASON
Although the season didn’t turn out the way Red Wings fans had hoped, the future remains bright in Detroit. Although the core is aging, the Wings proved that they have a talented crop of young players coming up. It also appears that the Red Wings will try to make a splash of in the free agent market, with rumors circulating that the Red Wings will be in on veterans Jarome Iginla and Dan Boyle. With 23-straight playoff-births, it’s as safe a bet as any that the Red Wings will be back in the playoffs and they will certainly challenge the East’s elite if they get the breaks they didn’t get this year.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH OCTOPUS THROWER
Editor of octopusthrower.com, Peter Fish, answers five questions about the Detroit’s season from a Red Wings’ fan perspective.
1. What was the biggest surprise for the Red Wings?
The kids from Grand Rapids. With all the injuries the Red Wings suffered, Detroit had to call up Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco from the AHL. Sheahan ended the season with the fifth highest points per game among rookies with over thirty games played and Jurco was able to contribute fifteen points, while being a physical presence on what was known as the Kid Line.
2. What was the biggest disappointment in Detroit this season?
The Detroit Red Wings’ defense is going to need a serious upgrade in the off-season because Kyle Quincey is a free agent and will probably be signed somewhere else, Brian Lashoff has little to no offensive upside, and Jakub Kindl‘s defensive play was so bad that Xavier Ouellet started over him in game five against Boston. Whether they address it my signing a RFA like Subban to an offer sheet, bringing in a free agent, or promoting a defenseman from Grand Rapids, something has to be done on the blue line.
3. What is the biggest need going forward?
The Detroit Red Wings’ defense is going to need a serious upgrade in the off-season because Kyle Quincey is a free agent and will probably be signed somewhere else, Brian Lashoff has little to no offensive upside, and Jakub Kindl’s defensive play was so bad that Xavier Ouellet started over him in game five against Boston. Whether they address it my signing a RFA like Subban to an offer sheet, bringing in a free agent, or promoting a defenseman from Grand Rapids, something has to be done on the blue line.
4. Who was the Red Wings’ MVP?
It is hard to choose between Gustav Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall. Nyquist’s performances down the stretch pushed the Red Wings into the playoffs, but Kronwall was the leader in Detroit when Henrik Zetterberg was placed on injure reserve at the end of the season. Both players were immensely important to Detroit and were the co-MVPs.
5. What #hashtag describes Detroit’s season?
#InjuredReserve because of the 421 man games lost during the season or #GrandDetroitGrifWings because of the twelve Grand Rapids Griffins who were called up to the NHL and played for the Detroit Red Wings this season