The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers could have been a lot worse. But it’s not even the loss that stings the most.
It’s just that two weeks ago, the Red Wings were dazzling on a road trip. Suddenly they were alive, and threatening for a wild card spot–with games in hand. Two weeks later, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek are gone and it appears that so too are the playoff hopes.
The sixth consecutive loss signaled more than just a team struggling to score goals. It revealed a team that was once so close to the playoffs seems destined to limp to the end.
2 weeks ago we were talking about the playoffs. Now we're talking about their odds in the Bedard sweepstakes.
The Red Wings' losing streak has now reached 6 games. They take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
— Devin L. (@HockeyWithDevin) March 6, 2023
A Whiplash of Emotions for Red Wings Players and Fans
It wasn’t too long ago that Detroit was being mentioned as a pleasant surprise. Hanging with Edmonton and beating them on the road. Taking out Washington and then watching them sell off as a result. That used to be the rebuilding Red Wings. Now they were the ones knocking teams off the perch.
Until it was them again. First it was Tampa Bay shutting them out 3-0, which on the surface was a tremendous effort stymied by a more superior goaltender and team. But the back-to-back losses to Ottawa made it clear that maybe the Red Wings were just not ready for the big show–yet.
Then the sell offs began, along with the wave of emotion from fans and players. A valiant effort that led to Detroit’s only point in its last six resulted from a 5-4 loss to Seattle. The Islanders buried the Red Wings Saturday afternoon, and then Philadelphia sent the reeling Red Wings to their sixth straight loss.
What was once a dream for a postseason chance for the first time since 2016 has morphed into disappointment.
Mistakes Burying Red Wings
But it’s the mistakes made that have frustrated more than anything.
“Even with a full roster, pre-injuries and deadline, we talked about it all the time. We needed to be really exact to be successful,” head coach Derek Lalonde said on Bally Sports Detroit postgame. “Now it’s probably even double fold. You can’t leave mistakes out there. The margin for error is beyond razor thin. What’s really disappointing is both these games were very winnable and we put ourselves in position to win. We made some plays that didn’t help.”
Even in the midst of the losing streak, there are still some signs of hope.
“I think we still come to work every day, want to get better and we’re working hard,” Moritz Seider told Bally Sports Detroit. “It’s really unfortunate we don’t get the bounces our way. PK’s are getting a couple goals against. Our power play is not hot anymore and it’s hard when you’re missing big players. So we got to really come together as a team, put in a team effort to make those wins count.”
Bright Spots in the Midst of the Low Point
VIlle Husso kept Detroit in the game Sunday night, and David Perron continued to score goals. They had their chances and they continue to fight. But the Red Wings look like a wounded team. Locker room favorite Tyler Bertuzzi being traded certainly added to that. The loss of Michael Rasmussen to injury while seeing their blue line weakened with the trade of Filip Hronek factors in, too.
Regardless of how it ends, the Red Wings have taken strides forward. But it doesn’t make the losing any easier to take.
In fact, Lalonde thinks there have been chances missed.
“I still think we can be a little bit better getting into the hard areas, those uncomfortable areas, maybe win a few more battles,” Lalonde said postgame. “Frustrating, it’s very frustrating because these were winnable games, especially tonight.”
For some, it may be worse that the tease of the playoffs was even entertained. But if there’s any glimpse of hope in the midst of another playoff-less season, it’s that the Red Wings entered the conversation.
Now it’s just keeping that conversation going beyond April.