Detroit Red Wings season sweep of Tampa Bay shows improvement

The Detroit Red Wings sweep of the season series with Tampa Bay shows their improvement.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

As 2023 drew to a close, the Detroit Red Wings were looking like the same old Red Wings. December was disastrous for the team, and I felt pretty down about the season. Then, the new year came, and the Red Wings became a brand new team! They went 9-2-2 in January and had made a complete turnaround in the new year. My hope was restored, and the world seemed good again. During the month of February, the good times continued after the All-Star break. The team played some great hockey with some big wins, netting them a 7-3-0 record for the month.

Then March came along, and it certainly was not the best month for Detroit. In fact, the recent play has been downright depressing at times. After sitting pretty in an Eastern Conference wild card spot with an eight-point cushion after a six-game win streak, the wheels completely fell off. The Red Wings have posted a 4-10-2 record and are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. The main contributor to that poor record was a seven-game losing streak during that time.

After feeling like the Red Wings were going to cruise into the playoffs and now trying to figure out what scenarios can get them in a playoff spot, it's easy to forget the team's progress this season. Granted, they aren't where I would like them to be in the standings, but they are definitely ahead of where they have been in the previous few seasons.

Outside of all the statistical facts that can show the improvements, I like to look at how they match up against some of the elite teams in the league that have owned them in recent seasons, particularly the teams from Florida. This season, they finally beat the Panthers at home after not beating them for years, then followed that up with solid effort, resulting in an overtime road loss. Next, they capped off their recent road trip with a win in Tampa Bay to complete the first season sweep of the Lightning ever in a season where they played three or more games.

This season's sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning shows the overall improvement of the Red Wings.

Even though Tampa Bay may not be the team they were when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups, they are still a force to be reckoned with. The key stars of the team are still there, and they made some good trade deadline acquisitions, which makes the Red Wings' final win of the season series even more impressive as it was also on the road. Andrei Vasilevskiy is still an elite goalie, Nikita Kucherov is in a three-way battle for the league lead in points, and Steven Stamkos has over 30 goals. Plus, Victor Hedman and Brayden Point are still elite players. The Bolts are no joke!

For me, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of my number one teams for the Red Wings to beat since they lost to them so many times for so many years straight, as I highlighted in an article earlier this season. They always seemed to be able to pull off a late comeback when pulling the goalie or straight-up crushed the Red Wings. The final game of the season showed that they could withstand the strong pressure of the Bolts, even when they were on a hot streak and were definitely favored to win. This made the season sweep even more exciting and, hopefully, a win that pushes them up for the remainder of the season.

Is there still a lot of work to do for the Red Wings? Absolutely! They have a lot of areas to improve, and there will need to be some changes in the roster, along with the way they play in the offseason, to work their way into a true Stanley Cup contender. In the meantime, it's good to see progress every year and have a team that is contending for a playoff spot this late in the season. This is the base that a perennial playoff-contending team will be built on, and the future is looking bright for the Red Wings. This is the base that a perennial playoff-contending team will be built on, and the future is looking bright for the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman built a winner in Tampa and will do the same in Detroit.