Detroit Red Wings: Will Hockeytown’s Streak End?

The Detroit Red Wings lost to the New York Rangers, 3-0 today, in a battle of teams fighting for playoff spots. In the realigned NHL, Gary Bettman has moved the Red Wings into the Atlantic Division of the Eastern conference. At puck drop, the Red Wings were in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, and were holding down the final wildcard playoff spot in the the ‘new’ system of post season qualification.

If Detroit does make it to the NHL’s post season spring dance, they will likely do so with out Henrik Zetterberg, who underwent back surgery on February 21st. The Red Wing’s Captain left the Sochi Winter Olympics after suffering a herniated disc in his back. Zetterberg played one game for the Swedish team prior to returning home the be evaluated in Detroit.

Taking up the slack for Zetterberg is Johan Franzen, who has now been teamed with Gustav Nyquist and newly acquired David Legwand. The Red Wings picked up Legwand from the Nashville Predators moments before the trading deadline passed. Legwand has made an immediate impact for the Red Wings, notching a goal and two assists against the New Jersey Devils Friday night.

The trade for Legwand was a desperate move on Detroit’s part, as they are also missing All Star Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss and Darren Helm. Legwand will be an unrestricted free agent in July, and while many are considering Legwand a ‘rental’, the Red Wings would love to re-sign him before he hits the open market. Legwand may make injured center Stephen Weiss expendable to the Red Wings if he can be re-signed. His contract is expected to be under that of Weiss, and with the hard cap, any reduction in salary is a plus.

Detroit had a busy week,retiring legendary Red Wing Nicklas Lindstrom’s jersey in an emotional ceremony prior to their Thursday night contest versus the Colorado Avalanche. Lidstrom’s jersey joined Red Wing’s greats Steve Yzerman,, Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio,Terry Sawchuk and Gordie Howeas Hockeytown’s retired jerseys. Lidstrom joked during the ceremony that he had asked to wear #9 upon his arrival, but was told “kid, that ain’t gonna happen.” The Red Wings witnessed more history during the game, as eighteen year old Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon broke one of The Great One’s records in the 3-2 loss.

Struggling to make the playoffs is a difficult road for the Red Wings and their fans. Detroit earned it’s nick name of Hockeytown, winning eleven Stanley Cups during their storied history. The Red Wings streak of twenty-two consecutive playoff appearances is the longest current streak in the NHL. As that streak is now in jeopardy, it would appear that Gary Bettman’s wish for parity has been granted.