Inside the Article:
Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde stated in his end-of-season availability that he never believed the Wings were a playoff team. Despite the team's effort, Lalonde acknowledged that the roster wasn't strong enough to compete within their division or the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings finished the 2022-23 season with a 35-37-10 record, which GM Steve Yzerman said is about where he thought they would finish.
- Lalonde credits the team for their effort despite not being a playoff team.
- The coach thought the team was overachieving when they were in the playoff hunt
- February was the best and weakest month for the Wings, with a winning streak followed by a losing streak.
- The team's outlook changed after losing some key players in March, including Filip Hronek and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Derek Lalonde never believed Red Wings were a playoff team
Here is what Lalonde said to the media during his season-ending press conference:
“I will give this group credit,” Lalonde said Friday afternoon. “I did not see this as a playoff team — where our roster was, stacked up against our division, our conference, I did not feel like it was a playoff team. But this group thought they could get there.”
The Red Wings coach added that you have to look at the season as a whole when evaluating, noting that he thought the team was overachieving when they were in the playoff picture.
“That’s exactly why it’s tough to judge the whole thing, because if you were to ask me then, it would have been flying colors,” Lalonde said. “We were in the playoffs, we had games in hand. I’d probably be spending my coach of the year bonus already, on some trip somewhere. So that’s exactly my point that it’s hard. At that point, awesome. Our guys were playing the right way, Ville (Husso) was playing like a No. 1 goalie, our special teams were clicking. We were at a pinnacle. I think that is a huge credit to the guys, I do feel in some ways, it was probably a little overachievement for us, probably not a true indicator of the entire season.
“On the reverse end, what happened here in the last five, six weeks, certainly is not an indicator. Probably the reality is somewhere in between. We are probably exactly where we belong, and that’s not playing on Monday or Tuesday.”
Bottom Line – The Red Wings have work to do
Lalonde's admission that the Red Wings were never a playoff team highlights the team's need for improvement. While the team's effort was commendable, it's clear that the Wings have work to do to compete with other teams in the division and conference. Steve Yzerman must continue to evaluate the team's roster and make the necessary changes to become a playoff contender in the future.