DETROIT – The Wings didn’t make a splash through free agency this past offseason, instead they decided to re-sign their own players.
And they weren’t able to pull off a significant trade at the trade deadline.
So here Detroit sits just roughly $5 million under the salary cap and the first team eliminated from the NHL postseason.
“I thought we had good pieces together,” Nicklas Lidstrom said.
“We couldn’t score enough, as simple as that, and we gave them too many easy ones,” Niklas Kronwall said. “Everyone in here believed something completely different than what the outcome was. It’s just empty right now.”
The Wings managed just nine goals over the five-game series and just one in each of the last two games. And only four goals came on 5-on-5 play.
“It’s never fun to lose a playoff series, especially the first one,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “I believe we had a good enough team to do some damage, so it is tough.”
Zetterberg was one of the lone bright spots in the series for Detroit, leading the team with two goals and an assist, averaging just over 23 minutes of ice time.
“I thought Zetterberg was fantastic in the series,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “But when you go through and look at our group, as a group of forwards … I like the depth on our back end, but I didn’t think we had enough up front and it showed in our scoring.
“We never scored any goals to overcome any mistakes,” Babcock added. “I thought we played lots of good hockey in the series. You have to give them credit. They probably have seven top six forwards. They were deeper than we were.”
Absent throughout the series was Johan Franzen, who entered the postseason with 37 goals and 35 assists in 83 career playoff games. He had one goal, which deflected off his skate in Game 2, in the series.
“I thought Zetterberg’s line was good in the series, I didn’t think we had enough other pieces,” Babcock said. “We tried lots of combinations. I didn’t think we had a lot of help for Pavel (Datsyuk),” Babcock said. “I thought we lacked the depth in scoring. I was concerned coming into the series we weren’t deep enough up front.”
Franzen is under contract until 2020 for at just under $4 million a season.
“I think we have to think about that for a bit,” Zetterberg said when asked if the Wings were good enough going forward. “They’re probably going to sit down and make some decisions like always. After the year you’re going to make changes, whether there’s more changes than we usually do, I don’t know. So we’ll just wait and see.”
“It’s hard to predict what they’re thinking, what they’re doing,” Lidstrom said. “We have some guys whose contracts are up. We’ll see what happens. You’re always going to see some changes, whether they’re major or minor, we’ll have to wait and see.”
It’s the first time the Wings have been knocked out in the first round since 2006. It’s also the third straight year they’ve failed to reach the Western Conference finals.
“We made the playoffs 21 years in a row, got 100 points 12 years in a row, we won a ton of playoff games, we’ve been in it every year, but when you look at our group now, we’ve had a second round knockout, a second round knockout and a first-round knockout, so to me that doesn’t look like you’re going in the right direction,” Babcock said. “I think if you do to once or twice … but to me the indication isn’t right.
“One thing about it is we’re going to have lots of time and we’ll be able to get it figured out what we need to do because I don’t think we’re very interested in scratching and clawing to make the playoffs,” Babcock continued. “That’s never been the approach we’ve had. We like to win.”