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In Success of Lions, Red Wings See Possibilities

Detroit players get a feel for what a playoff run does to the city



Dylan Larkin, Red Wings
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was amazed by how the city of Detroit got behind the Lions during the NFL playoffs.

Though the NFL postseason didn’t have the happy ending that the Detroit Lions and their fanbase were seeking, from the point of view of the Detroit Red Wings, watching the playoff success of the Lions this winter opened their eyes to what their own playoff run might feel like in the spring.

“It’s amazing how the city … the fans, what it’s done for them, for us,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “I couldn’t be happier for Jared (Goff) and Aidan (Hurchinson) and a lot of guys that have been there through the tough times.”

Squandering a 24-7 halftime lead, the Lions lost 34-31 to the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, coming up one win shy of the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. Still, the energy generated from this run by the Lions ignited a city of long-suffering, passionate sports fans.

Larkin, the only member of the current club to skate in a Red Wings playoff game, felt that energy and thought about what it could be like were they to achieve something similar on the ice.

“It’s inspiring for us to see how much the city gets behind its sports teams when they’ve earned it and that’s what the Lions have done,” Larkin said.

Red Wings Poised To Do Likewise

The playoff drought in Detroit was city wide in its scope. The Detroit Pistons haven’t won an NBA postseason game since 2008. The Lions won in the playoffs for the first time since 1991. As for the Red Wings, it’s been 2013 since they won a Stanley Cup series and 2016 since they appeared in the NHL playoffs.

In fact, prior to this season, you have to go all the way back to 2013 to discover any semblance of Detroit postseason success stories. That fall, the Detroit Tigers would reach the ALCS before falling to the Boston Red Sox. In the spring, the Red Wings were a Game 7 overtime goal against the Chicago Blackhawks from reaching the Western Conference final.

Detroit is currently sitting in eighth in the East and riding a 9-2-1 roll over their past 12 games. The Red Wings are in a position to get back to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

“There’s no doubt our recent play and success has brought some energy to this building,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “You saw it a little bit last year when we had some of these pushes. But I think with where the Lions are at, it’s a different energy.

“This is like a wow energy. So this is really cool, this is fun.”