Detroit in 2012-13:
The Detroit Red Wings were narrowly part of the playoff picture after finishing the 2012-13 season 24-16-8 for 56 points in 48 games, clinching a franchise-record 22nd consecutive postseason berth, which stands as the fifth-longest streak in NHL history and the longest active streak in all of North American major professional sports. As the seventh seed in the Western Conference, it took the Red Wings seven games, four of which went to overtime, to upset the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the quarterfinal round. Detroit then nearly ousted the Presidents Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks by going up three games to one in the Western Conference Semifinal match-up, but dropped the next three contests, including a 2-1 overtime loss during Game 7 in Chicago, eliminating the Red Wings from the playoffs.
Tampa Bay and Detroit haven’t faced each other since November 11, 2011, when the Lightning suffered a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Red Wings. The Bolts last beat Detroit in a 1-0 win on January 7, 2003 during the 2002-03 campaign and have just a 5-24-2-1 record all-time in 32 games against the new conference and division foes.
Buffalo joins the Lightning in the newly-formed Atlantic Division, which also includes Buffalo.
Notching 49 points and 48 points, respectively, center Pavel Datsyuk and left-winger Henrik Zetterberg broke away from the rest of the Red Wings in offense, as the next highest point-getter, Johan Franzen, added 31 points last season. Datsyuk’s plus/minus rating of plus-21 also led the team. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall’s 29 points was more than double what the next closest Detroit defenseman managed, while goaltender Jimmy Howard tied for the league-lead in shutouts (five) and recorded a .923 save percentage and 2.13 goals-against average in 42 games for a 21-13-7 record. In the playoffs, Howard posted a .924 save percentage, 2.44 goals-against average and one shutout.
Key Acquisitions and Departures:
Possibly one of the most noteworthy acquisitions of the offseason, the Red Wings signed long-time Ottawa Senators right-winger Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year contract. The 40-year-old, who previously spent 17 years with the Senators organization, has amassed 426 goals, 682 assists and 1,108 points on his NHL resume. Stephen Weiss, whose 2012-13 campaign came to halt after just 17 games due to season-ending wrist surgery, also joined Detroit as part of a five-year contract this summer. Detroit center Valtteri Filppula parted ways with the Red Wings in favor of a five-year contract with the Bolts.
In the System:
Swapping the 18th overall pick for the 20th and 58th pick in this year’s draft with the San Jose Sharks, Detroit selected right-winger Anthony Mantha from Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL with their first overall pick. Much like the Lightning, Detroit has depth in their prospect pool, including left-winger Gustav Nyquist, who dished out 60 points in 58 games with AHL affiliate and the 2012-13 Calder Cup-winning Grand Rapids Griffins. Nyquist finally got the opportunity to play for the Red Wings and would not relinquish his roster spot, also appearing in 14 playoff games with two goals and three assists. Netminder Petr Mrazek, center Calle Järnkrok and winger Tomas Tatar also round out Detroit’s deep and versatile bunch.
Tampa Bay Ties on the Red Wings:
A member of the Lightning for 14 games during the 2009-10 season, left-winger Drew Miller would go on to finish the season with the Red Wings, appearing in more than 250 games with Detroit since.
An exception to their other divisional opponents (excluding Ottawa), Tampa Bay is slated to face the Red Wings five times in 2013-14. The Lightning will head to Joe Louis Arena for the first time since November 2011 to open their season series versus the Red Wings on Saturday, November 9. The two then face each other twice in four days, first on Thursday, December 12 in Tampa and again in Detroit on Sunday, December 15. The Red Wings then head to the Tampa Bay Times Forum once more on the last day before the Olympic break, February 8, and don’t play each other again until Sunday, March 30 for their third and final game of the season series in Detroit.