Canadiens, Red Wings play only for pride
The Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens have never done this before, and chances are, they will never want to do it again.
The Canadiens and Red Wings, who meet Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, will miss the playoffs this season. Since Detroit joined the NHL in 1926, nine years after the Canadiens were an original franchise, this is a first.
These two storied franchises had never missed the playoffs in the same season before. To say this is a record-setting performance that neither wanted any part of would be significantly understating the case.
“It’s not a fun feeling to get used to, and none of these guys are used to it,” Detroit defenseman Nick Jensen said. “In this organization, it’s got a winning atmosphere.”
Not so much lately, though. This will be the second straight season out of the playoffs for the Wings, the first time that’s happened since the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.
“I have been a pro now for five years this is the hardest year I’ve had with not winning many games and not being in the playoffs,” Detroit right-winger Martin Frk said. “It is super tough.”
It’s been a decade since Detroit’s last Stanley Cup win in 2008.
“We need to be better as a team,” Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. “That’s the goal, to get into the playoffs and make a run for the Cup.
“Obviously, I don’t think anyone in here is satisfied. You’ve just got to look yourself in the mirror and say you need to be better to get your team into a playoff spot.”
For the Canadiens, it’s the second time in three seasons that they’ve missed the playoffs. Although the Canadiens have won a record 23 Stanley Cups as an NHL team, they haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993, a quarter-century ago.
“This was a frustrating year, obviously, for the fans and for us as well,” Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher told the Montreal Gazette. “For fans, they’re allowed to be frustrated. For us, we can’t allow that to kind of thing to seep into our mindset. For us it’s about finding solutions.”
Thursday’s game does have draft lottery implications. The Wings (30-38-12), 26th overall in the NHL, who own a league-high 11 picks in the 2018 NHL entry draft, sit three points ahead of 29th-ranked Montreal (28-39-13). The Canadiens have 10 picks in the June draft.
The Canadiens have already indicated that general manager Marc Bergevin would return next season. While the Wings have yet to officially make an announcement regarding the future of general manager Ken Holland, whose contract is up at season’s end, there is strong belief in NHL circles that Holland will be back next season.
Three Red Wings will get a taste of playoff hockey this spring. Goalie Tom McCollum, defenseman Joe Hicketts and right-winger Evgeni Svechnikov were assigned to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday and will play in the upcoming Calder Cup playoffs. The Griffins are defending AHL champions.