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Red Wings Two Truths and a Lie: Hope Springs Eternal

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Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings GM

The Detroit Red Wings 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers was likely the death knell for its lingering playoff hopes. But though the postseason wishes of fans cease, hope should not. If anything, there was enough on display, even in defeat, to buoy Red Wings fans hopes for the future.

In this version of Detroit Red Wings Two Truths and a Lie, there’s an awful lot for Red Wings fans to look forward to in spite of another playoff-less season. While spring once symbolized the start of Detroit’s Cup Chase, this season foreshadows what could be a return to those past hopes.

Truth: Simon Edvinsson’s Two Games Were Very Encouraging

Though he limped out of the contest on Monday, Edvinsson skated impressively and earned high praise from Detroit’s bench boss.

“I thought he was our best D tonight,” head coach Derek Lalonde said. “He created some plays, he gapped, was hard. Loved the play where we almost got the tyer. Him creating a play on the back door there. Some positive growth there.”

The sample size may only be two games, and fans might be holding their breath until Edvinsson’s injury is likely deemed to be not overly serious. Though he returned after suffering it, Lalonde indicated postgame that doctors were taking a closer look.

In spite of it ending on a more somber note than when he first took the ice, Edvinsson’s first pair of games at the NHL level provides more hope for the young core Detroit has drafted and developed.

Truth: Larkin Continues to Show His Worth

It was the captain again starring as the Red Wings fought to keep the game close late against Florida. It didn’t turn out the way they would have liked, but Detroit’s captain showed again why the contract extension was the right move for the franchise. There’s no denying that Larkin is a huge building block for the team, and his play has arguably been the most inspired of his career thus far. For all the hand wringing over whether Larkin was a top line or second line center, or whether he was worth whatever he and the front office was negotiating, general manager Steve Yzerman ultimately found the dollar amount that worked into his plans.

Plans can change and debates will still rage. But one aspect fans on either side of the argument can agree on is that Larkin continues to drive the Red Wings in the right direction through his efforts all season long.

Lie: The Season Has Been A Disappointment

Wrong. The toughest part for fans to reconcile was that in light of the brief 24-hour period the Red Wings were perched in a playoff spot, it would be the closest they’d get. That said, prior to the five-game winning streak that got them there, fans were talking more about tanking more for Connor Bedard and less about sneaking into the playoffs. With one long winning streak, which saw Detroit capture seven wins in an eight game stretch, hope emerged from the ashes of a rebuild that stretched back to its last playoff appearance in 2016.

If any Red Wings fan, or analyst was asked about Detroit’s chances prior to the puck dropping on the 2022-23 season, it was likely that they were still a year away from a true playoff push. A season of up and down play was normal learning a new system, experiencing new expectations, and in the end, casting off some key pieces to help fortify the future. Detroit is exactly where many expected to them be, and if anything, slightly ahead. They’re better defensively. Blowouts were less frequent, and games were much closer. The team showed fight and have for all intents and purposes, bought into Lalonde’s vision.

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Expect another aggressive offseason of adding pieces and Yzerman plucking more talent from the draft. Though this season will end with Detroit as spectators of the postseason, it’s unfair to only characterize it as a disappointing failure.

If anything, it’s an encouraging step forward.

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