DETROIT -- When head coach Derek Lalonde addressed the Detroit Red Wings after their 2023-24 regular-season finale against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on April 16, he didn’t lament a Stanley Cup Playoffs chase that fell just short.

Lalonde instead stressed the importance of using this season as a springboard into the 2024-25 campaign and beyond.

“I went right in after the game and told them how proud I was of them,” Lalonde said during his end-of-season media session on April 19. “I thanked them for pushing this organization forward, but it’s just a start. Don’t look at the negatives, because we need to push more on the big picture and need more of everyone.”

Derek Lalonde | End of Season Media Availability

Detroit ended this season with 91 points, an 11-point improvement from 2022-23. The Red Wings led the NHL with 11 overtime wins and tied the New York Rangers for the most third-period comeback victories with 14.

So, while Lalonde wants the Red Wings to be proud of the strides they made this season, he said there needs to be another significant step taken in 2024-25, especially defensively up and down the roster.

“We had a lot of guys throughout our lineup where their DNA was to score goals, and we needed them,” Lalonde said. “There were a lot of nights we appreciated them, but you can also see a lot of our forwards (that) defense first maybe was not their DNA.”

When asked to assess Detroit’s goalie trio of Ville Husso, James Reimer and Alex Lyon, Lalonde said the club wouldn’t have been pushing for a playoff spot without them.

Husso entered this season as the Red Wings’ No. 1 netminder but was limited to 19 games because of injuries. Lyon and Reimer stepped up in Husso’s absence, combining for a 3.08 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and four shutouts in 69 games.

“I cannot talk any more strongly about our goaltending,” Lalonde said. “It ended up being a huge positive for us in a really tough circumstance. All three of our guys battled. Alex Lyon and James Reimer were put in a really tough situation. Those guys gave us everything and then some. Not only were they battling as hard as possible, they were winning games down the stretch.”

Lalonde said captain Dylan Larkin was another player who inspired his Detroit teammates to raise their level of play throughout the season. Larkin recorded 69 points (33-36—69) in 68 games this season, becoming the first Red Wings player to average a point-per-game (minimum 48 games) since Pavel Datsyuk had 65 points in 63 games in 2014-15.

“I’m really proud of him,” Lalonde said about Larkin. “I love working with him. I love him as our captain, but we need to keep growing together in a lot of ways too.”

The Red Wings players aren’t the only ones taking important lessons learned from this season, according to Lalonde.

“Unique situations for me too,” Lalonde said about his second season behind Detroit’s bench. “You battle to put these guys in meaningful games down the stretch and we’ve done that. Meaningful games for me too. I’ve asked a lot of the group, and I pushed the group. It hasn’t been comfortable all the time, but I think being comfortable with the uncomfortable is all part of it and part of the growth. I’m taking steps with the group.”