The Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs for the third straight season last year, and this upcoming campaign isn't projected to turn out much better.
However, team leader Dylan Larkin is keeping things positive, and believes his team has what it takes to, as he put it, “shock people”.
“For me, it’d be really disappointing if we didn’t take a step forward this year,” Larkin said. “With the pieces we’ve acquired and the feeling we have in the locker room, it’d be really disappointing if we’re sitting at the bottom of the league early April and not at least fighting for a playoff spot.”
The team finished 32-40-10 for 74 points; good for second last in the Atlantic Division, ahead of only the Ottawa Senators. But there are points of optimism for Detroit with the emergence of the young talent on the roster, as well as their strong 8-3 finish to last season.
“We believe in here that we can have one of the playoff spots in our conference and we can shock people, and we’re going to do it by defending well and we’re going to rely on some guys coming in that are going to have big breakout seasons and it’s going to help our team and propel us forward.”
Head coach Jeff Blashill attested to the adversity his team faced, and knows that teams that overcome and continue to fight are the ones who take steps forward.
“Character shows in tough times and it’s a super tough time when you are out of the playoffs,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “It’s a grind and extremely frustrating. It can beat the will out of a lot of people and it didn’t beat the will out of our group. Our group continued to fight and continued to find ways to get better. As a result, we were 7-3 in our last 10 and the reason we did that is our best players were elite every night. We checked great and because we checked great we gave our goalies a chance to be really good.