It was a streak that will be remembered in sports circles for some time.
The Detroit Red Wings earned 25 consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup playoffs, punching their ticket to the annual dance every year from 1991 through 2016. Six Stanley Cup Finals appearances, four championships, and countless memories gave the citizens of the Motor City something to be proud of.
Unfortunately, things are a little different nowadays.
The Red Wings (17-25-7) can officially clinch their 5th straight year on the outside looking in of the Stanley Cup Playoffs should they not triumph over the visiting Dallas Stars (19-15-12), who are in the fight of their lives to have a chance to defend last season's Western Conference champions title.
For Detroit, there's nothing wrong with playing the role of spoiler. It's not exactly what we've been accustomed to, but it's part of the harsh reality of going through a rebuild.
Newly acquired forward Jakub Vrana might have something to say about Dallas' playoff chances. He tallied four goals during Thursday night's game, becoming the first Red Wings player to accomplish the feat since, ironically, Anthony Mantha did the same in October of 2019 - also against Dallas. The two were traded for one another earlier this month in a deal that also saw Richard Panik come from the Washington Capitals along with two draft selections. Panik tallied his first goal in a Detroit uniform since the trade on Thursday.
Of course, Detroit will be without the services of captain Dylan Larkin and gritty forward Tyler Bertuzzi, both of whom were both officially declared out for the remainder of the regular season earlier this week by head coach Jeff Blashill. Forward Robby Fabbri will also be absent; he's missed the past nine straight since suffering an upper-body injury in early April.
On a bit of a happier note, tonight is "Hockey Fights Cancer" night. Detroit will wear specially themed jerseys during the pre-game skate that will later be auctioned off by the Detroit Red Wings Foundation.
Tonight's game will get underway from Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit shortly after 7:00 PM EST. Fans can tune into the action locally on Bally Sports Detroit and on 97.1 The Ticket.