“Red Wings Back Into Playoffs.”
That was the headline I thought about running instead of just doing my usual postgame thoughts formula. Double-meaning, eh? For the 25th consecutive year, they’re back into the playoffs. And they certainly backed into them.
Needing a win to control their own destiny, following a woeful loss against the Bruins on Thursday in a game in which they could have clinched, the Red Wings came out relatively flat against the Rangers. Sure, they kind of scored first, with call-up Joakim Andersson banging a loose puck in behind Antti Raanta on a play that was deemed to be offsides upon review, but they weren’t pressuring the Blueshirts at all for the first twenty minutes and ended the period down a goal.
They got better as the game continued, so that’s a positive. In the end, Jeff Blashill pulled Jimmy Howard for the extra skater at a ridiculous time, they gave up and empty-net goal, scored with an empty net to pull back within one, then completely blew twenty seconds of a six-on-three opportunity to lose the game.
And a few minutes later, the Ottawa Senators finished blowing out the Boston Bruins, giving the Red Wings the third seed in the Atlantic Division and a second-consecutive first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I’ve said repeatedly that this team does not deserve to make the playoffs. I still think that’s true. Thankfully, though, enough other teams didn’t deserve to make them that the Wings got in anyway.
The Lightning will be without Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman and possibly Tyler Johnson. Aside from a blowout in their last meeting, the Wings played them close all season. It could be a good matchup. I don’t think it will be, given the Red Wings’ play in the last six weeks, but we’ll see.