The Red Wings’ playoff streak is extended to 23 years.
That’s the longest active streak in any of the four major North American sports – ice hockey, football, basketball and baseball. Red Wings and playoff hockey are so closely related that several of the Red Wings players – especially those that have been called up from Grand Rapids to cover for injured players – weren’t even born the last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs in 1990. According to a USA Today report, the last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs gas cost $1.16 per gallon.
At the time of this report, the Red Wings are tied with the Pens and are headed to overtime. It doesn’t matter whether they win or not, though. The sympathy point is all they needed to extend their playoff streak to 23 years.
The Wings made the postseason in large part because of gutsy play by call-ups. The young kids have stepped up and helped the team extend their playoff streak despite spending extensive streaks without stars like Pavel Datsyuk (who returned to the ice this week), Daniel Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and Henrik Zetterberg.
The Red Wings playoff streak looked all but dead a month ago, as a related Inquitr article summarized. The Wings were on the outside looking in, desperate to pick up points to make it into the wildcard in their first season after transferring to the Eastern Conference.
Then they caught fire.
Led by rookie Gustav Nyquist, the Red Wings started terrorizing opposing net minders, lighting the lamp three or more times in 11 out of their last 12 games. They’ve won ten of the last fifteen and taken over the top position in the Eastern Conference wildcard chase.
Today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins may well be a foreshadowing of the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh has the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference locked down. Under the new playoff system, the two wildcards in each conference play the two division champs in their conference in the first round of the playoffs. The top wildcard team plays the division champ with the least points. Pittsburgh can’t catch Atlantic Division leader Boston. If the Red Wings maintain their narrow lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the top wildcard, they’ll face the Penguins in the first round of their 23rd straight playoffs. If the Blue Jackets catch them, the Wings will face the red hot Boston Bruins.
The Red Wings’ playoff streak is by far the longest active streak in North American professional sports. The next longest active playoff streak belongs to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs at 16 seasons. The second longest playoff streak in the NHL belongs to the San Jose Sharks, who are headed to their 10th straight playoff appearance this year. Sooner or later, Hockeytown’s playoff streak will come to an end, but it won’t be in 2014.
UPDATE: The Penguins won the game in a shootout. Final score 4-3, Pens. Not that it mattered. The Red Wings playoff streak was extended either way.
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