DETROIT >> Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland likes a lot of what happened this season and he hopes it prepares them better for many seasons down the road.
“It was a real experience for many of our players,” Holland said in a phone interview. “We’re hoping this makes us better prepared for next season.
“I’m proud we made the playoffs for the 23rd straight year,” Holland continued. “It’s hard to make the playoffs, just half the league does. I’m disappointed we’re out, but we got beat by a team that was better.”
Detroit fell in five games to the Presidents’ Trophy winning Boston Bruins.
“We had higher hopes than going out in five games in the first round,” Holland said. “Hopefully, we accomplished some things that can lead to future success.”
The Wings have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two of the past three seasons. They haven’t advanced past the second round the past five postseasons.
“We’re not there,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the loss in Game 5. “The last two years we battled to get in the playoffs. To me that’s the measure of where we are. We’re a team that used to battle to win the Cup. We’re battling to get in the playoffs.”
Detroit lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, in seven games last season, losing the final game in overtime.
What the Wings are banking on is the development of their young players including Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco.
“DK had a very good rookie season,” Holland said. “He played a lot of big minutes against the other teams’ best players. When (Jonathan) Ericsson went down, Brendan Smith played well with (Niklas Kronwall) in the Boston series. The young forwards came on strong for us in the second half of the year when we needed offense.
“We had some real good things happen to our team,” Holland added. “We’re disappointed we didn’t finish higher in the standings and do better in the playoffs. We are trying to be a playoff team, trying to compete and advance in the playoffs and trying to be a Cup contender.”
The Wings had to play most of their season without their two top forwards – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Both played just 45 of the 82-game regular season.
A number of others players, including Darren Helm, Stephen Weiss, Jonathan Ericsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary and Jonas Gustavsson, saw limited action due to injury.
Just two players – Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey – played all 82 games.