Considering the Wings lost 421 man games to injury, making the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season was actually a major accomplishment. It is the longest current streak in professional sports. But it took them until the final week of the season to do so. Needing three points in their last four games, the Wings got those points in the first two of those games, beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 and then earning one point in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the Wings were the second wild card team and were beaten by the Boston Bruins in the first round, the streak remained intact.
Emergence of young players
There was a silver lining to losing so many players to injury during the 2013-14 season. It forced the Wings to play some of their younger prospects and in the process, they found some players they could rely on at the NHL level. Forwards Gustav Nyquist (57 games), Luke Glendening (56 games), Tomas Jurco (36 games), Riley Sheahan (42 games), Landon Ferraro (4 games), Teemu Pulkkinen (3 games), Mitch Callahan (1 game), defensemen Xavier Ouellet (4 games), Adam Almquist (2 games), Ryan Sproul (1 game), Alexey Marchenko (1 game) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (9 games) all were forced into action. Players like Tomas Tatar, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith, who were expected to be on the Wings, all had to play larger roles than originally intended.
Wings represent well at Olympics
The Wings have a very worldly team and they proved it by sending 10 players to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Naturally, most of the Detroit Olympians played for Team Sweden. Henrik Zetterberg, the captain of the Wings, was chosen to be captain of Team Sweden. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall and forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen also made Team Sweden. Since Franzen could not participate due to injury, Team Sweden selected Gustav Nyquist. Pavel Datsyuk represented Team Russia as both a player and a captain. Goaltender Jimmy Howard made Team USA. The two young Tomases, Tatar and Jurco, played for Team Slovakia. Wings coach Mike Babcock coached Team Canada to the gold medal. Wings general manager Ken Holland helped select the team.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
Zetterberg returns in playoffs
Zetterberg, who had to leave the Olympics early because of a chronic back injury, underwent surgery Feb. 21 to remove part of a disc that was rubbing on a nerve. The recovery for the injury was projected to be eight weeks. Zetterberg had just one full practice before returning a little more than two months after surgery in Game 3 against Boston on April 24, a 3-2 overtime loss. Zetterberg played 29 shifts for 19:34. He had one shot, two missed shots, two hits, one giveaway, one face-off loss (when Pavel Datsyuk was tossed out of the circle) and finished plus-1. Although Zetterberg could not prevent the Wings' elimination, his return was an inspiration.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Miller, Quincey play 82
In the year of injuries, playing in all 82 games was no small feat. Only two of the Wings accomplished it -- forward Drew Miller and defenseman Kyle Quincey. For both Miller and Quincey, it was the only time in their careers they skated in every game. Only Miller has a chance to repeat it, having played in all the Wings' game this season. Quincey missed four games earlier this season because of an ankle injury.