Jason Brough

The Detroit Red Wings bench reacts after the team's 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game 5 in a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday, April 21, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. The Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Red Wings — good enough to make the playoffs, but ‘nothing more’


They say that once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.

But let’s be real here — if the Detroit Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup this year, it would’ve been a massive surprise.

It’s been like that for a few years now in Detroit. The Wings have had some decent teams, good enough to keep their playoff streak alive. But ever since Nicklas Lidstrom retired in 2012, nobody’s given them much of a shot, and rightly so.

Last night in Tampa, they were bounced after just five games, by a Lightning squad that was missing two of its best players. For the Wings, it was their third straight first-round defeat. They haven’t been past the second round since 2009, the year they lost to Pittsburgh in the finals.

“It gets tougher and tougher to go all the way,” captain Henrik Zetterberg told NHL.com. “The first step is making the playoffs. We keep doing that. But then it’s nothing more. That gets frustrating.”

On top of that, the Wings are now facing a future without Pavel Datsyuk. Even if Datsyuk were to return for one more season, he turns 38 in July and isn’t the player he used to be. For that matter, neither are Zetterberg or Niklas Kronwall, both 35.

Granted, it’s not all dire. Dylan Larkin, 19, has “face of the franchise” potential. Petr Mrazek, 24, is an excellent young goalie. Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, and Danny DeKeyser are all nice players in their mid-20s, while prospects Anthony Mantha and Evgeny Svechnikov have a chance to be good, as do a few others in the system.

But because they’ve made the playoffs 25 straight times, the Wings haven’t had access to the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos or Victor Hedman. The last time Detroit got to pick in the top 10 was 1991, the year Eric Lindros went first overall.

It’s like Mike Babcock said before he left, “In the end, you’ve got to have big-time players up the middle and on the back to be successful. So those are questions in our organization that we work towards, drafting good and developing good, but we’ve been winning too much (in the regular season to get high draft picks). That’s the facts.”

In a related story, it wasn’t just the money that convinced Babcock to take the job in Toronto. It was the prospect of piling up tons of blue-chip talent in the draft, then seeing what he can do with it.

The Wings found Lidstrom in the third round, Datsyuk in the sixth, and Zetterberg in the seventh. A Hall of Fame defensemen and two Hall of Fame centers.

It was those three players that kept the Wings competitive for so long.

And next year, only one of them could be left.

Varlamov: Avalanche are ‘waiting’ on Radulov

Russia’s Alexander Radulov celebrates the team's fourth goal during the first period action of the Channel One Cup ice hockey match between Finland and Russia, in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Semyon Varlamov would love to have Alexander Radulov join the Colorado Avalanche for next season.

The Avs’ starting goalie, over in Russia for the world championship, said so to Russian newspaper Sport Express.

Here are some of his translated remarks:

Patrick Roy, of course, coached Radulov in junior, and there have been reports that Roy would like to coach him again.

Radulov had an excellent season for CSKA Moscow, leading the team with 65 points in 53 regular-season games, then adding 17 points in 20 playoff games.

The 29-year-old has 102 points in 154 career NHL games, including 47 goals.

Related: Where could Radulov land?

Sutter: ‘The referees missed some calls last night’


The Los Angeles Kings only got two power plays Wednesday night in San Jose.

Darryl Sutter felt they deserved a few more.

“The referees missed some calls last night,” the Kings’ head coach told reporters today. “I know the theme today is ‘San Jose’s power play.’ I’d say the game for me is, ‘How come we didn’t have more?’ We have a good power play, too. There’s missed calls in the third period. When it’s 3-2, there should’ve been some calls, clearly. There’s two hooking, tripping penalties.”

For example…

The Sharks scored three times with their four man advantages last night, opening a 3-0 lead before the Kings could fight back to make it 3-2, which was the final score.

“We might’ve been playing overtime until three this morning if they’d have given us one more,” said Sutter.

Instead, San Jose can eliminate Los Angeles with a victory tomorrow at Staples Center.

Reunited with Toews on Chicago’s top line, Kane hoping for some ‘instant chemistry’

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

A big reason the Chicago Blackhawks are facing elimination tonight in St. Louis is that their forwards have only scored four goals in four games.

Patrick Kane has no goals.

Jonathan Toews has no goals.

Marian Hossa has no goals.

Andrew Shaw has two goals, but he’s suspended for tonight’s game.

And so head coach Joel Quenneville decided to make a few changes. Here are the expected lines for Game 5:

“At this point of the playoffs, sometimes things call for change,” Kane told CSN Chicago after being reunited with Toews. “We haven’t played with each other much, so hopefully it’s kind of that instant chemistry and we can get a win tonight. That’s the most important thing, so hopefully it helps us.”

Kane, of course, spent most of the season with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov — a combination that helped Kane become the first American to lead the NHL in scoring, and Panarin a favorite for rookie of the year.

If the ‘Hawks lose tonight, it’ll mark the fewest games they’ve lasted in the playoffs since their postseason-appearance streak began in 2009. They’ve been eliminated twice in the first round, lasting seven games in 2011 and six in 2012.

Good news on Laughton, plus a funny story about Ed Snider and Donald Trump


Good news on the health of Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton.

Teammate Wayne Simmonds told reporters that Laughton is talking and moving and will be released from hospital later today.

Laughton was taken to the hospital last night after crashing into the end boards during the Flyers’ 2-1 victory over the Capitals. He stayed overnight for “precautionary reasons.”

Game 5 of the Flyers-Capitals series goes tomorrow in Washington.

Today, the Flyers attended the celebration of owner Ed Snider’s life at Wells Fargo Center — a ceremony that featured a pretty good story about Snider and Donald Trump.

Apparently, Trump was once kicked out of Snider’s private suite during a playoff game — not because of politics, but because Trump wouldn’t stop talking to Snider.

Watch the story being told here: