Analysts: Red Wings’ playoff streak won’t end this year

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Judging by talk radio and fan forums, Red Wings fans are in a panic.

Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets spurred concern the franchise’s 24 consecutive years of reaching the postseason may be in jeopardy.

Hockey analysts, however, aren’t feeling the same way.

“I’d be a little surprised if the Red Wings don’t make the playoffs,” NHL Network analyst E.J. Hradek said. “But I will say they need to get at least four points out of these next three home games. They’ve let Philadelphia into the discussion.”

If the playoffs began today, the Red Wings would be in the postseason a 25th consecutive time — barely.

With 75 points, they’d earn the last wild-card spot in the East.

But the season doesn’t end today, and lurking are the Flyers (73 points, one less game) and Hurricanes (71). In fact, the Senators (70), Devils (69) and Canadiens (68) are in the mix as well.

“Every team goes through ups and down during a long season,” analyst Elliotte Friedman said. “ I just feel with players such (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, they will find the way.

“That streak means a lot to them. I remember talking with Zetterberg a couple of years ago, shortly after a season-ending victory in Dallas, which they had to win to make the playoffs. He said something along the lines of they weren’t going to miss ‘on his watch.’ ”

But there are alarms are sounding.

Few Red Wings are playing well, the special teams (particularly the power play) have struggled, as has goaltender Petr Mrazek.

And, the inconsistency from forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, and their lack of development, is surprising.

“I remember that overtime goal in Ottawa last season in which Nyquist kept the puck the entire time from the Senators, showed so much skill, and you wondered how good could he be,” Friedman said. “But he hasn’t taken that next step.

“You do wonder whether the younger players on that roster defer to Datsyuk and Zetterberg. They do need to begin taking ownership.”

Who’s in goal?

The Red Wings were off Wednesday, and coach Jeff Blashill gave no indication as to who his starter will be tonight against the Jets — Mrazek or Jimmy Howard.

“Jimmy Howard has played better lately, but Mrazek has to get back to the level he was at,” Hradek said. “They rode Mrazek for a long stretch there when he was going so good, and you can’t blame them for it. He showed he has a lot of skill.”

Blashill sounds off

The lack of passion for most of Tuesday’s loss disappointed Blashill.

“I know we have winners the room,” Blashill said. “They’ve proven that time after time after time. ... We just need to play better on a consistent basis. We got to step up and play at a much higher level.”

Blashill brushed off any thought the physical play by the Blue Jackets was a factor.

“I can’t believe it can be an issue, can’t believe we’re going to let somebody intimidate us,” Blashill said. “I can’t believe we’re going to let somebody outwork us or outbattle us. There’s no way I can believe the guys in that room are going to let that be an issue.”

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Jets at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Jets (27-34-5, 59 points) are on a 2-6-2 slide. ... The Jets have the 29th ranked power play and 25th ranked penalty kill. ... D Dustin Byfuglien (43 points, 16 goals) leads the Jets.