Are these still the most fun days to be a Detroit Red Wings fan?

A month ago, the Detroit Red Wings were riding high and heading to the playoffs. Now they are mired in a losing rut and playoffs are unlikely. Are we still having fun?
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On March 3rd, I wrote that these are the most fun days to be a Detroit Red Wings fan. At that time, they had built a strong cushion for the wild card playoff position. The team was playing consistently well, and everything was cruising along. Perhaps this was a curse. In the month of March, the team went 3-9-2. A disaster. The cushion is long gone. Playoffs seem unlikely. Lackluster performances. Missed opportunities. And finding creative ways to lose games. Fandom went from buying playoff tickets to holding our heads in our hands. Fans on the internet want to fire Derek Lalonde or Steve Yzerman. Should I write a retraction? No. Are these still the most fun times? Absolutely.

The better the team, the more painful the losses become. Over the past several years, defeats have been anticipated and greeted with indifference. The uniform alone or Yzerman's magic alone will not secure victories. Lalonde does not possess a mystical formula for winning, either. The crucial factors in recent losses were the key injuries sustained by Larkin, Walman, and Kane. Additionally, illnesses swept through the team, draining the energy and strength of the remaining players. The grueling road schedule also took its toll, with nine out of fourteen games played away from the Little Caesar’s Arena, many of which were against top-tier teams. Although every team faces challenging stretches, this team has not quite reached the talent level necessary to overcome so many adversities. For fans, these losses sting more than those of the past eight years.

There are a few positives to note. Lucas Raymond has evolved from being a nice contributor to becoming a driving force on his line. His physical play and consistent ability to win board battles complement his playmaking skills and excellent shot perfectly. He has been the team’s MVP this year. Simon Edvinsson has logged significant minutes and has brought an upgrade to the blue line. Ben Chiarot has displayed strength throughout the season. Although he has his weaknesses, when he decides to be a menace in his own end and take charge in the offensive zone, Chiarot proves he is worth his contract. With the challenges of a difficult month, it is not easy to find positives, but they do exist.

Are these still the most fun days to be a Detroit Red Wings fan?

Regardless of the outcomes in April, significant changes are imperative for this team in the offseason. Fortunately, most of these changes are expected to come from within the organization. It is likely that three rookies will join the main team. We can anticipate a full season of Simon Edvinsson gracefully maneuvering across the ice. Albert Johansson will bring control, composure, and improved defensive coverage. Marco Kasper's addition will provide much-needed speed and aggression. Additionally, seeing Carter Mazur, Elmer Soderblom, and Nate Danielson in Detroit sometime during the 2024-2025 season is highly plausible. Although still a couple of years away, Sebastian Cossa and Trey Augustine are both having remarkable years in goal. Furthermore, there are several promising players who could take significant strides in the next couple of years, such as Hannas, Finnie, Lombardi, and Wallinder.

If you still aren’t having fun, then watch any game that Axel Sandin-Pellika is playing. I promise you that it will be a fun watch. All of the above players are very good. But ASP is the only one who will make you say “wow” in every single game. He takes over games with intelligence, vision, anticipation, and skill. And he knows how to cover forwards in the D-zone. He is under contract in Sweden through 2024-2025, but he will be a dominant force on the Detroit blue line for many years.

As April begins, the Red Wings are still in the playoff hunt, though they are likely to come up short. I will not give up hope until they are mathematically eliminated, which adds to the excitement. However, March has been painful, and the excuses do not carry much weight. Even for the most pessimistic fans, it is worth noting that this will likely be the worst Red Wings team in at least ten years. Despite the challenges, the real fun is just beginning.