A year later, Red Wings are a different, possible playoff-bound team

Ted Kulfans, The Detroit News on

Published in Hockey

DETROIT — What a difference a year has made, in terms of where the Red Wings have been, currently are and might be in the weeks and months ahead.

A year ago this week, the Red Wings began the timeframe with 6-2 and 6-1 losses on consecutive nights in Ottawa. What had been a spirited run to get into playoff positioning suddenly fell flat.

And general manager Steve Yzerman swiftly acted. Players such as Filip Hronek (Vancouver), Tyler Bertuzzi (Boston), Jakub Vrana (St. Louis) and Oskar Sundqvist (St. Louis) were dealt, as the Wings stockpiled more future draft picks.

Captain Dylan Larkin was re-signed to a long-term contract extension, and the Wings' young core continued to gain valuable experience. But the losses and trades were a quick, one-two gut punch.

"You grow so close to the guys, and spend each and every day with each other, so when you lose teammates ike that, it's never fun," forward Lucas Raymond said. "It's part of it, but it's never fun. And add those two losses, that didn't make it great.

"But you learn from it and you grow from it and try to not put ourselves in that position again."


The trade deadline for this season is March 8, and no one has been answering questions about the Wings possibly selling and trading away players.

If anything, with the Wings on a six-game win streak, and with a robust 16-4-2 record since Jan. 1, Yzerman could be a buyer on a roster that looks deep and is improving rapidly — and gaining confidence along the way.

"We have a lot of ultra-competitive guys in the room and that goes a long way," goaltender Alex Lyon said. "There's a feeling that we want to continue this moving forward. We want to be competitive and we have to focus on the present and that's what is driving us."

The Wings held a playoff spot on Feb. 23 last year after defeating the New York Rangers, four days before playing Ottawa. The Wings had won seven of 10 games after defeating the Rangers and looked ready to make a push for the playoffs.


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