The last Red Wings team to miss playoffs was in 1989-90.
The 2013 squad wants no part of that dubious distinction.
As such, the Wings are talking like a desperate bunch heading into Saturday’s game against Vancouver.
“If you’re Henrik Zetterberg, and it’s your first year as captain, you don’t want it on your watch,” head coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit Free Press of possibly missing the playoffs. “If you’re Mike Babcock, in your eighth year of coaching, you don’t want it on your watch.”
Detroit currently sits ninth in the Western Conference, two points back of Columbus (49 points), with just five games remaining in the season.
According to Sports Club Stats, Detroit is in decent shape to make the postseason, holding a 41.3 percent chance — higher than Dallas (40.3), Columbus (21.2) and Phoenix (1.9).
After Saturday’s game in Vancouver (they’ve beaten the Canucks twice this year by a combined 13-5 score) the Wings host the Coyotes, Kings and Predators, three teams they’ve posted a combined 4-2-1 record against this year.
Then, in the season finale, Detroit will face Dallas in what could be a game to decide who gets into the dance.
The way Babcock sees it, the final five games will come down to how badly his team wants to avoid snapping the consecutive postseason appearance streak.
“Any one of these players that has any stake in the Red Wings, and especially the ones that have put in a ton of time — they don’t want it on their watch, either,” he explained.
“We’re going to do whatever we think is going to help us win.”