Red Wings follow refrain, make brief appearance in playoffs
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings have developed a pattern of consistency, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
Detroit extended its postseason streak to 25, a feat the franchise hailed by showing a slickly produced video montage before each of its two home playoff games.
The Red Wings, though, exited the playoffs in the first round for the third straight year and fourth time in five years. Since coming within a win of repeating as Stanley Cup champions in 2009, the Red Wings haven't made it past the second round.
The Red Wings lost 1-0 on Thursday night at Tampa Bay in Game 5 of their first-round season series.
''It was a very disappointing season,'' Detroit general manager Ken Holland said Friday night in a telephone interview. ''We had higher hopes.''
Now, the Red Wings will have to hope Pavel Datsyuk changes his mind about retiring from the NHL or that they're able to trade the last year of his $7.5 million salary to a team looking to inflate its salary cap to the league minimum without having to pay him.
If Datsyuk goes back to Russia and he counts against the Red Wings' cap, Holland acknowledged it would put the franchisee in a tough spot.
''But I'll deal with it,'' Holland said. ''That's my job.''
Datsyuk, a 37-year-old center, told the Detroit Free Press before the playoffs started that he was leaving the league because he wanted to reunited with his teenage daughter while playing at least another season of professional hockey.
Datsyuk later reporters he hadn't made a final decision, and wasn't ready to say what's next for him after playing in Game 5 against the Lightning.
''I need a little bit cool down,'' he said.
Holland said he does not plan to meet with Datsyuk about his future on Monday when the Red Wings gather for a team picture at Joe Louis Arena. Holland also doesn't expect Datsyuk to discuss his situation with team owners Mike and Marian Ilitch anytime soon.
''I don't need to know what he's going to do for a month,'' Holland said. ''With big decisions in life, sometimes people change their minds. Sometimes time changes your mind, and sometime it doesn't.''
Datsyuk has had a dazzling career. He helped Detroit hoist the Cup in 2002 and 2002, won the Byng Trophy four straight seasons as the league's most talented gentleman and three straight Selke Trophies as the NHL's top defensive forward.
He had 49 points, ranking second on the team, in 66 games during the regular season.
''Pavel is one of the best competitors that will ever be in this league,'' Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. ''He was amazing to coach this year. So, I hope I get a chance to coach him again next year.''
If Datsyuk is in fact retiring from the NHL, he didn't go out on a high note.
He did not have a point against the Lightning in the playoffs and extended his goal-scoring drought to 15 games.
Datsyuk was not the only player who struggled down the stretch.
Another veteran, Henrik Zetterberg, scored once in his last 24 games.
Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, two of the team's younger players it was counting on, each had 11 fewer points than they did last season and both failed to provide a much-needed boost on offense in the playoffs.
Detroit struggled on defense, too. And just when it appeared Petr Mrazek had beaten out Jimmy Howard to be the No. 1 goaltender, he lost the job late in the regular season only to get it back for the final three games of the playoffs.
''We're all accountable for sputtering down the stretch for a second straight year,'' Holland said. ''I'm accountable and so are Blashill and the players. I don't know how you would break up the percentages, but we didn't get the job done as a team and we'll spend time asking questions as an organization to find solutions and make changes.''
Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage