By Jordan Gasper
A 22 year reign in jeopardy, the Detroit Red Wings push for their playoff spot to add to the record holding longest current playoff streak in the NHL.
The Red Wings began their season with an unusually rough start. Almost half way through the season, the wings were offered a once in a lifetime experience, playing in the Winter Classic. The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs squared off at The Big House, the University of Michigan Football Stadium, to set a world record attendance for any hockey game.
Pushing 110,000 people, the puck was dropped on the snow covered ice for 60 minutes of grueling play. Losing the game in a shutout, the Wings’ health started to deteriorate.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg and assistant captain Pavel Datsyuk were put on the long list of injured players, along with assistant captain Johan Franzen.
As the season progressed, the roster became even more crippled.
What do they need to do to keep the flame alive? GM Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock called up 10 different AHL players, while a staggering seven made their debut on the ice. The AHL is basically a semi-pro league sometimes meant for NHL draft picks that aren’t ready for the big show yet. This is where General Manager Ken Holland keeps their top prospects.
Things started to look up for the Red Wings as some of the key players and starters became healthy again. As February came around, it was time for Sochi.
Every four years, the general managers of the National Hockey League dread one event: the Olympics. Taking a break from the NHL for roughly two weeks, stars of the NHL are sent to Sochi to represent their respective countries in the winter games. The Red Wings, having a deep roster, sent several players to team Sweden, as well as a couple other countries. Unfortunately, Sochi created agony to our squad.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg ruptured a disk in his back, putting him back on the bench for two months. Assistant captain Pavel Datsyuk played phenomenally for team Russia, but then injured his knee during the last Olympic game, and was forced back on the injured list. Johan Franzen also gave up his spot on team Sweden due to his injuries. The stop in rhythm and the numerous injuries on our roster froze the Wings for a period of time.
Shortly after the Olympic break, they lost five out of seven games and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Babcock and Holland were forced to call up more rookies from the Griffins. After a few games of trial, the wings got back to their game.
With a mix of veterans and rookies, the wings think they can still sneak their way into the playoffs even without their captain and assistant captain. With goalie Jimmy Howard finally getting out of a slump, Babcock finally made the decision to use him instead of backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
With only weeks left in the regular season, every game has now become an important one. Most importantly, this organization’s playoff streak is older than every student at this school, plus some. With our two top players making their way back on the ice as the post season begins, Hockeytown may tense back up and enjoy another consecutive year of Red Wing playoff hockey.