For a team that finished third in its conference and topped the 100-point mark for an NHL-record 11th consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings heard plenty of boos at Joe Louis Arena.
Their aura of invincibility at home disappeared after a 10-1-2 start, as they went 11-13-4 at the Joe after Dec. 1. They did not fare well against good competition, going 13-15-4 against Western Conference playoff teams. And they allowed more goals (2.89 per game) than any club in the postseason, ranking 23rd in the NHL.
They allowed more shots and scoring chances than they typically do and committed too many turnovers. And their penalty killing took a step back after improving in the second half of last season.
So fans had many reasons to be upset. And the Red Wings have a lot to fix as they head into the playoffs.
Detroit has the talent, depth, firepower and experience to make a long playoff run, possibly culminating with a Stanley Cup championship.
But the Red Wings need to get back to playoff-type hockey, the kind they played from 2007 to 2009, a run that included a trip to the conference finals, a Stanley Cup and a Game 7 loss in the finals. That's when they were tight-checking, gritty, hard to play against and didn't give up a lot of goals.
Their transformation into that type of defensive-minded team must begin tonight in Game 1 against Phoenix and last for two months.
It starts with being "engaged," one of coach Mike Babcock's buzzwords.
Red Wings understand playoff hockey includes tightening down their defense
Michigan Live | Apr 13