Derek Lalonde preaches improvement in season-ending presser

The Red Wings coach has wrapped up his 2nd season behind the bench.



For the eighth consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings have fallen short of securing a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, signaling the start of another offseason of evaluation and adjustment. While the recently concluded season showcased numerous thrilling moments, it also underscored the ongoing need for improvement before the team can realistically contend for their first Stanley Cup victory since 2008.

Head coach Derek Lalonde, who now has two full seasons under his belt on the job since being hired in the summer of 2022, spoke at length this afternoon about the fact that the team saw an 11-point improvement from last season and played meaningful hockey down the stretch - but also stated the plain fact that they fell short of the right to compete for a championship. 

"Obviously, there's some improvement, that's pretty obvious," Lalonde said. "You look at the black and white improvement, we improved 11 points. You can also look at it in black in white that we missed the playoffs. And that's been hockey for 100 years, making the playoffs.

I'll sound repetitive, but I think our guys are finding out that it's still  about keeping it out of our net. Obviously, we scored a ton more goals this year and went from 26th to 13th in goals for. Those goals helped us, but when you want to keep pushing and you hope to get over that line, I still think it's how you play your team defense and keeping it out of your net."

Lalonde then pointed to Detroit's defensive deficiencies as the main culprit behind the fact that their season came to a close earlier this week.

"Obviously not good enough, I'm sitting here talking to you instead of preparing for the Rangers," he said. "Again, we'll look at a lot of different things, but if we want to keep moving this forward and be a real contender, you have to keep it out of your net." 

The Red Wings saw their nine-point lead from the cutoff point in the standings disappear thanks in large part to losing seven consecutive games starting on February 29. In the midst of the losing skid, Detroit also lost Dylan Larkin to injury, something that had a major negative effect. 

"Obviously not having Dylan was a big part of it. You don't have to be the most expert hockey mind to see that. I saw a stat where we're just over a 100 point team with him in our lineup, and we're picking 1st overall with him out of the lineup if we were to project wins and losses. Just where we're at - our center depth, it was a tough player to lose when he's playing and driving us 20 minutes. It's a team player and team sport, and we could have gotten more out of other areas, so of course that will be some reflection." 

Detroit's goaltending situation was tumultuous this season, with Ville Husso sidelined for extended periods due to two separate lower-body injuries. This created an opportunity for Alex Lyon, who began the season as the third-string goalie behind Husso and James Reimer, to step up. Lyon saw a career-high in starts, delivering several strong performances but also encountering some struggles along the way.

"I cannot talk any more strongly about our goaltending, it ended up being a huge positive for us in a really tough circumstance," Lalonde said. "All three of our guys battled; Alex Lyon and James Reimer were put in really tough situations. We talk about Dylan Larkin's first injury, Lyon was injured during that time too. Those guys gave us everything and then some; not only did they battle as hard as possible, but they were winning games down the stretch." 

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