The Red Wings 39-28-15 record and 93 points were just enough to push them into the second and final Wild Card spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, extending its playoff streak to 23 straight seasons. Detroit ultimately fell to the President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the first round though, only capturing one win in the series’ opening game. During the season head coach Mike Babcock earned his 414th career win as head coach of the Red Wings, to surpass Jack Adams as the winningest coach in franchise history. Babcock was also announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year at the conclusion of the regular season.
The Bolts battled the Red Wings a season-high five times in 2013-14 and were extremely successful against their division rivals, going 4-1-0. Tampa Bay’s first victory last year in the Motor City served as a special one, as it was just the Lightning’s second-ever win in Detroit in franchise history. Prior to the year the Bolts had just five wins all-time versus the Red Wings and improved their lifetime record to 9-25-2-1 by the season’s end.
In his first season with Detroit, veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson and blueliner Niklas Kronwall tied for the lead for points on the Red Wings with 49. Runner-up to the two point-leaders, Gustav Nyquist notched a team-high 28 goals and tallied 48 points. Despite missing nearly half of the Red Wings season slate due to a back injury, captain Henrik Zetterberg tied for second for points with 48. Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard went 21-19-11 in 51 games played and was also a representative for Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Key Acquisitions and Departures
Detroit re-signed one of its young talents, Thomas Tatar, to a three-year contract on July 28. Tatar posted 39 points in his first full year with the club. The team also retained defenseman Kyle Quincy and right wing Dan Cleary this offseason. On the other hand Alfredsson is still mulling his future, but the Red Wings are hoping to re-sign him if he decides to play next season. He’ll be 42 in December.
In the System
Drafted 20th overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, forward Anthony Mantha had an impressive 2013-14 campaign with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Mantha led the league with 120 points (57 goals, 63 assists) in 57 games. He was also honored for his outstanding year in juniors by earning the Jean Béliveau Trophy, as the top scorer in the QMJHL, the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy, as the Most Valuable Player in the QMJHL, and the Central Hockey League Player of the Year. At the 2014 NHL Draft, the Red Wings selected forward Dylan Larkin with the 15th overall selection. Last season he played with the U.S. National Under-18 Team and posted 56 points in 60 games.
Tampa Bay hopes to be as successful as last season against Detroit moving forward. The two faceoff against each other four times next season with the first matchup marking the one-year anniversary of their second-ever road win in Detroit. The next pair of contests will be at Amalie Arena in January and March, before they travel to “the Joe” once more for its final game against the Red Wings on March 28.