The third quarter of this season was the first time in my lifetime I can remember having to come to terms with the fact that the Red Wings would not be in the playoffs.
Despite some seriously exciting wins against elite teams (Washington, Pittsburgh…) the Wings couldn’t put wins together with any consistency. Larkin continued to struggle during this period, and Vanek continued to make himself valuable trade bait.
Blashill kept taking heat for the performance of the team, and the clamouring for a front office shake up intensified.
Despite being upset about the prospect of not having a playoff run to watch, fans were looking forward to (and subsequently disappointed by) the prospect of selling some assets at the trade deadline.
Let’s dive in!
7-8-5 for a total of 19 points
The Red Wings lost games to Dallas, Toronto, New Jersey, Washington, Columbus, Minnesota, St Louis, and the New York Islanders.
Inexplicably, the Wings beat Pittsburgh twice with a total goal differential of +6 during this time period. They also beat Montreal, Boston, the Islanders, Nashville and Washington. This was one of those weird periods where they were beating (or playing well) against very good teams, and losing games that they should have won.
Overall, a very frustrating quarter season of hockey.
Goals: Andreas Athanasiou (8)
Assists: Henrik Zetterberg (11)
Points: Henrik Zetterberg (17)
Wins: Petr Mrazek (5)
Zetterberg and Vanek continued to have good seasons. Andreas Athanasiou had a solid quarter. Mrazek picked up 5 of the team’s 7 wins in this stretch.
Players that impressed
Athanasiou continued a strong season with 8 goals in this time to lead the team. He firmly established himself as one of the key members of this teams future. He has elite speed and vision and can be incredibly effective when paired with similar players.
The captain continued to perform above expectations during this otherwise disappointing stretch. Despite being the old man on the team, he outscored everyone else, and was only 2 goals behind AA for the lead in that category. Zetterbergs performance during this season can’t be understated. He had a legitimately great season during the worst Wings season in the last quarter century.
The rookie had a strong third quarter. Even though the team was struggling as a whole Mantha put up 13 points in 20 games, combined with a +3 rating over a stretch where the team had a -16 goal differential. Even with all the fears of a half-hearted rebuild in Detroit it’s hard to not be excited about the prospect of Larkin, Mantha and AA in a couple of years!
Players that disappointed
Larkin’s less-than-stellar sophomore season continued into this part of the season. He played in 18 of the 20 games and only accounted for 1 goal and 3 assists. He saw his average ice time during this period dip below that of Mantha. This level of performance is hard to swallow with a player of Larkin’s calibre.
DeKeyser continued to struggle as well. The big defenseman put up only 2 points in this 20 game stretch, and was a -4. He will need to step up his game if Detroit is planning on sticking with him long-term.
I love the guy, and I think he was stuck with some terrible luck this year. Still — he hadn’t scored a goal through 60 games this year.
The Wings continued their struggles in regulation over this period. They stepped up against a few teams that should have beat them handily, but they lost against more than a few teams that they should have been competitive with.
Again, the loser-point hid how much the Wings actually struggled during this stretch. They picked up 5 points by losing in overtime as opposed to regulation. Looking back, it is truly amazing how many games the Wings played that went to overtime.
While they certainly had some fun wins during this stretch, the cracks that would seal their fate started to show as well.
This segment of the year confirmed that the Wings would not be in the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. This was a brutally hard pill to swallow for many Wings fans, but also provided almost a sense of relief. With no streak to cling to, the hope rose that the Wings would finally begin the overdue process of rebuilding. When the trade deadline came and passed during this 20 game stretch it was apparent that the Wings wouldn’t be making too many big moves during the year. All that was left to do was play out the season, have some fun, and hope that Riley Sheahan would finally get a goal.
The Wings finished through 60 games with 58 points, and essentially a 0% chance of making the playoffs.
Thanks for reading our season in review series. If you missed the previous articles, you can find them here: