It’s a fair question to ask.
Detroit is playing for their playoff lives and in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since the 89-90’ season. That’s before Lidstrom made his way to Detroit and back when Head Coach Mike Babcock was 2-years removed from his minor league hockey career that ended in 1988 with the Whitley Warriors.
In fact it’s been so long since Detroit missed the playoffs, Pavel Datsyuk was an 11 year old boy back home in Russia watching Sergei Fedorov defect to the U.S.
So can 21 straight years turn into 22?
Detroit has 7 games left and 4 of them are on the road. Starting tonight in Nashville, Detroit has games at Calgary and in Vancouver this week followed by home contests with Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville. Finally they’ll hit the road once again to close out the season in Dallas.
As we speak, Detroit shares 8th place in the West with Dallas and Columbus after going 2-4-2 in their last eight games which is not the look you want for your team trying to make a playoff push. Not to mention Detroit has only scored over 2 goals twice in the last 10 games, yet Howard continues to garner criticism with a team in front of him that has averaged just 1.7 goals over that span while being shut out twice. Howard has also been his team’s top performer in seven of the last ten games.
The question remains, can Detroit do it?
The Wings had the playoffs in hand but has gone from being a possible 4th seed to battling Dallas and Columbus for 8th. Meanwhile the Stars are trending up with a 5 game winning streak after trading Jagr and team captain Brendan Morrow. Then Columbus after trading for Marian Gaborik have won 3 straight while Detroit is on the downward trend being losers of 3 straight. All three teams are bundled up at 45 points with the Minnesota Wild having lost 3 in a row as well and only sit at 47 points. Also keep in mind Phoenix is sitting at 43 points with proven veterans that want a shot at the playoffs.
I think the playoff road ends here. I look at this roster, this team, this year and while Detroit still has some nice talent, I see a tired Henrik Zetterberg, a tired Pavel Datsyuk, and I wonder what more can we as fans ask of them? The young defense has gotten better over the course of the season, Jimmy Howard has played his way into a 6 year deal, while the special team units have been AWOL with the offense in general going MIA.
It pains me to come to this realization, being a long time fan of this team and of the way business is done. But as I’ve pointed out the worst thing that could of happened this year is doing nothing in the offseason and especially the deadline to improve the team. Now fans get a slow death instead of a hired gun to play with Datsyuk or selling off a piece or two to strengthen the future Detroit.
I hope, I pray I’m wrong. There’s nothing better than a playoff chant of 20,666 fans screaming “Let’s Go Red Wings!”