Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Red Wings' postseason streak running on fumes in Motor City

DETROIT — NHL standings used to be displayed in the Red Wings' dressing room, filling much of a wall between the players' lounge and showers.

Detroit doesn't do that anymore.

And perhaps that's a good thing.

Detroit is in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time since 1990, a streak that started when it could outspend the competition and may end because the salary cap caught up to the storied franchise. The Red Wings wake up Thursday in seventh place in the eight-team Atlantic Division but just four points away from the division's third guaranteed spot in the postseason with a little less than half of the regular season remaining.

"You don't want to be on that team that doesn't make it," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We still have a chance, but we have to play the right away."

Just when it looked like Detroit's chances were doomed with a fourth losing streak of three games or more, it showed signs of life by rallying from a two-goal deficit to beat the Penguins 6-3 on Saturday night, shutting out the Atlantic-leading Canadiens 1-0 on Monday afternoon, and coming back from deficits of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 before beating the Bruins 6-5 in a shootout Wednesday night.

"I understand, from the outside, the criticism where you look at this team and say it's not a playoff team," wing Thomas Vanek said. "At times, we're probably not. The good thing here is we have great leadership and we do believe in each other. When we do things right, we can win games against the best of them."

The Red Wings are the only team to make the playoffs in every year of the salary cap era, which began with the 2005-06 season. But in recent years, they've barely extended the NHL's longest active postseason streak, which is tied for the third longest in league history, and have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round three years in a row.

"The Red Wings are the last team the cap has caught up to," said former Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood, who works as a Red Wings analyst on Fox Sports Detroit.

Last year Detroit beat out Boston on a tiebreaker for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs to extend its remarkable playoff run to 25 years.

"It's not an easy thing to do," Montreal defenseman Shea Weber said. "It takes a lot of commitment, starting with the ownership. And it comes down to the players being able to get it done every year."

Detroit doesn't have a superstar it can lean on as it has for the past two-plus decades, a situation that helped it win four Stanley Cups in that time.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman led the Red Wings the last time an NHL team won consecutive Stanley Cups, in 1997 and 1998. Detroit's 2002 championship team had nine future Hall of Fame players and Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. And the last time the Red Wings hoisted the Cup, in 2008, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom won his third straight Norris Trophy while Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were skating in their prime.

Datsyuk left the team last summer with a year left on his deal to return to Russia to play and be with his family. That left the 36-year-old Zetterberg to lead a lackluster lineup. He's doing his part with a team-high 31 points through 44 games, using his savvy to make up for his lack of speed. On too many nights, though, Zetterberg hasn't had much help due in part to injuries and because a lot of his teammates are simply inconsistent.

Zetterberg said even though the standings aren't seen daily in the dressing room, he and his teammates are well aware of where they stand.

"We know we're behind and we got to start winning games," he said.

Red Wings' postseason streak running on fumes in Motor City 01/19/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs: Quick and easy fixes for what ails Tampa Bay?


    The Bucs are 2-4 and have lost five straight road games, so there's plenty to fix. What's the quickest and easiest fix for coach Dirk Koetter and Tampa Bay? The Times' Bucs coverage team weighs in:


    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play


    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  4. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  5. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170