Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

5 things to know about the Detroit Red Wings

1. There's a new coach in town

The biggest change since last year's series starts at the top: coach Mike Babcock left Detroit to lead Toronto's rebuilding project. The Red Wings replaced perhaps the best coach in the game with Jeff Blashill (above), whose rise mirrors that of his good friend, Lightning coach Jon Cooper. Like Cooper, Blashill coached in the USHL and eventually jumped to the AHL, where he led Detroit's Grand Rapids affiliate to the 2013 Calder Cup.

2. Goalie remains a question mark

Petr Mrazek starred against the Lightning in last year's first round, stopping 172 of the 186 shots he faced and recording two shutouts in his first postseason series. But the 24-year-old (above) struggled late this season, allowing 28 goals in 10 games last month. Jimmy Howard, who lost the starting job to Mrazek before last year's playoffs, regained it for the final five games this season. Howard, 32, is expected to start against Tampa Bay.

3. Pavel Datsyuk is on his way out

The 37-year-old center told the Detroit Free Press that he plans to skip the final year of his contract to return home to Russia after this playoff run. The three-time All-Star has spent all 14 of his NHL seasons with Detroit and won the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008. His 604 career assists are seventh among active players, and he led the Red Wings with five points during last year's series. Detroit fans chanted "One more year" at him last week during the regular-season home finale.

4. Detroit's history remains rich

The Red Wings extended their playoff streak to a remarkable 25 seasons — the longest active run in the four major North American pro sports leagues and tied for the third longest in NHL history. The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs, neither the Lightning nor current points leader Nikita Kucherov were born. That history extends to traditions. Detroit fans are still known for throwing octopi onto the ice in a decades-old ritual where the eight tentacles stood for the number of victories necessary to win the Cup. An octopus made its way onto the ice at Amalie Arena during last year's series.

5. Dylan Larkin is the future

The 19-year-old forward was one of the NHL's top rookies this season. He led Detroit with 23 goals and a plus-11 rating while adding 22 assists in 80 games. Larkin, a Michigan native, showed his speed in the All-Star skills challenge when he became the fastest skater in the history of the event. The last Detroit rookie to play in the NHL All-Star game? Legend Steve Yzerman, who is now the Lightning's general manager.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

     
 
Comments
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Golden Knights are giving Vegas a great odds-beating story in their first year.The expansion team has the whole league playing catchup.James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored to help Vegas beat the Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday and...
Updated: 6 hours ago
What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

It didn't take the sound of a door slamming in the dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay felt like it worked hard – at least, harder than Thursday's listless loss to Vegas – yet dropped another ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

The Lightning's telling trip just got tougher.Wing Ondrej Palat flew back to Tampa for more tests Monday and will be out indefinitely, a big blow to the Lightning's shutdown line. Palat suffered a lower-body injury getting speared by Minnesota's Jare...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first 20-plus games this season, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness knew "the look" was coming.The other team’s top line would jump over the boards and Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev would peek over at Bow...
Published: 01/20/18
Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

One week from today, Tampa will be the center of the hockey world.The All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. Players will smile for the cameras. They'll put on a fantastic show. Maybe they'll catch a bead or two from a Gasparilla parade.But you ...
Published: 01/20/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

The rest of the Lightning players had already left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room for a quick change before the team's charter flight to Minnesota.But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 23, stayed on late, facing about 15 minutes mo...
Published: 01/20/18
Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Keith Harris fondly looks back on some memorable days from his Tampa upbringing when he worked as a lifeguard at a pool next to a Boys & Girls Club. ¶Whenever it rained, he watched as the kids retreated to the safe haven of the club. They entered int...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18