They may have done it by the hair on their chinny chin chin but the Detroit Red Wings are once again in the playoffs. It is one of the best ongoing accomplishments in athletics today, something to be truly revered in the sporting world. 25 stinkin years.
While the tale of this year has yet to be written, a good portion of it can already be etched in stone.
The hiring of Jeff Blashill this past offseason could have gone one of two ways, fans wouldn’t have evaluated it anywhere in the gray. Taking this team to the playoffs despite all of their obvious flaws is a fantastic achievement and will hopefully not be overlooked when evaluating Blashill after this season.
The forwards for long stretches of the regular season carried the team and a large portion of the kudos can go to Dylan Larkin, who has been an absolute revelation for them. He may have tailed off at the end of the regular season but his performance at the beginning is what really kept this team afloat. He won’t win the Calder and he isn’t a name player like Datsyuk or Zetterberg, nonetheless he should receive plaudits for his work this season.
The defense and goaltending have always been steady for the Wings, going all the way back to the team’s Stanley Cup years. What makes this all the more special is that the team scratched and clawed their way in without the backend carrying them down the stretch. While it isn’t ideal for players like Mrazek to falter, the narrative becomes all the more compelling with Howard “leading” them into the playoffs.
Not many parts of the defense were impressive this year but that doesn’t mean that some players didn’t have memorable seasons. Mike Green led the defense in points and as I pointed out earlier this week, Brendan Smith is having himself a heck of a season despite not playing much during crunch time.
This team isn’t going to blow anybody out of the water, we have all seen that this season. They are a team that will work hard and try to make the most of what is given to them. That may not be exciting for some to watch, for myself and others, seeing this team play as an underdog is a different way of viewing and is just as fulfilling. It will definitely add to the end of season drama we just endured.
Buckle up for the playoffs everyone, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.