The Red Wings lost, 1-0, Sunday to the Blues, the team that started the day a point behind them and ended it one point ahead, as the Wings slipped to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

So, do the Wings make the playoffs?

Chances are slimmer than they were Sunday morning, certainly. Some anxious denizens of Hockeytown are likely to lean further toward desperation, with nine games left.

So, why was Mike Babcock enthusiastic, telling a group of youth soccer players, parents and coaches at a community event afterward, "I'm proud of my team."

"We lost, 1-0," Babcock said. "Why am I proud of them? Because they battled for every inch of ice."

Why were he and general manager Ken Holland also satisfied enough with a team struggling to make the playoffs they did not augment the roster at the trade deadline five days ago? So satisfied, in fact, Babcock said he expected no moves all along?

Because they are rebuilding.

Rebuilding on-the-run, mind you. Rebuilding with the intent of keeping and nurturing prospects and getting larger players at most positions.

Rebuilding even at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

Rebuilding without mentioning the word until right after the trade deadline, when Holland finally said it before perhaps engaging in a bit of immediate self-editing and describing it as "retooling."