Instead, the Red Wings won four in a row to secure the seventh seed in the Western Conference and a first-round series with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks, who finished 13th in the West last season, have flourished this year under Bruce Boudreau finishing third overall in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Red Wings have dealt with a number of injuries and despite inconsistent play, they could still be a threat in the postseason.
As for the playoff history between the two clubs, they've met five times, with the Red Wings holding a 3-2 edge in series wins. Their most recent meeting came in 2009, when the Red Wings beat the Ducks in seven games in the conference semifinals.
Expect similar excitement in this series, which features a number of highly skilled offensive stars.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Game 1: Tuesday, April 30 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network, TSN
Game 2: Thursday, May 2 at Anaheim, 10 p.m. NBC Sports Network, TSN
Game 3: Saturday, May 4 at Detroit, 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network, TSN
Game 4: Monday, May 6 at Detroit, 8 p.m. CNBC, TSN
Game 5*: Wednesday, May 8 at Anaheim, 10 p.m. TSN
Game 6*: Friday, May 10 at Detroit, TBD. TSN
Game 7*: Sunday, May 12 at Anaheim, TBD. TSN
Red Wings: 2.54, ranked 19th.
Ducks: 2.79, ranked 8th.
Both teams have plenty of offensive firepower, some of which comes courtesy of a few key veterans.
The Ducks have the Finnish duo of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who combined for 20 goals and 51 points this season. Ryan Getzlaf has returned to form, finishing in the top 10 in NHL scoring, while former Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry continues to produce timely goals.
The Red Wings' one-two punch on offense comes as always from Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. However, players like Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula need to step up and provide scoring depth for Detroit in this series. After missing almost the entire season, Todd Bertuzzi won’t play in Game 1 either (per MLive.com), but he may step in as the series progresses.
On the power play, the Ducks hold the edge, having scored on 21.5 percent of their chances this season, compared to the Wings' 18.4 percent.
Red Wings: 2.29, ranked 5th.
Ducks: 2.40, ranked T9th.
The Red Wings have a fairly young group of defensemen while the Ducks' lineup features a number of more experienced blueliners. However, they’ve performed equally as well, despite a number of injuries.
Niklas Kronwall has improved throughout the season, stepping into the role of Detroit’s top defensemen. He and Jonathan Ericsson will be expected to shut down the Ducks’ powerful attack. With nine hits and nine blocked shots, Danny Dekeyser has played well in just 11 games for Detroit. The question is, can he continue to perform in the playoffs?
The Ducks' blue line is led by Francois Beauchemin, who has 24 points, 81 hits and an astounding 111 blocked shots. Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa bring more size and physicality while 21-year-old Cam Fowler adds speed and the ability to move the puck.
The Red Wings and Ducks have had similar success on the penalty kill, operating at just over 81 percent. One of the only major statistical differences between both is in shot-blocking where the Ducks rank among the NHL’s best while the Wings are near the bottom of the league.
Jimmy Howard: 21-13-7, .923 save percentage, 2.13 GAA and five shutouts.
Viktor Fasth: 15-6-2, .921 save percentage, 2.18 GAA and four shutouts.
Jonas Hiller: 15-6-4, .913 save percentage, 2.36 GAA and one shutout.
These three goalies are all around age 30, but are at different points in their NHL careers.
Howard recently signed a six-year, $31.75 million contract with the Red Wings (per Capgeek.com), making him, without a doubt, the future of the franchise in goal. Howard has been solid for most of the season, nearly matching his career high in shutouts with six in just 42 games.
The Ducks have a tough decision to make, but it’s one many coaches wish they had the luxury of debating. Which of the two goaltenders who have been equally brilliant throughout the season, gets the nod?
Fasth has slightly better stats, but no NHL playoff experience as he's in just his first NHL season. Hiller played in 13 playoff games in 2009 and recorded two shutouts with a .943 save percentage.
It may be a matchup of the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds, but it’s one of the toughest first-round series to pick.
It’s likely to be one of the most entertaining as well, considering the talented and experienced stars on each team. Many of them helped the Ducks and Red Wings hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
The Red Wings managed to win the season series, 2-1, after taking back-to-back games in Anaheim. They will come out on top here as well, if only by the smallest margin.
Red Wings in seven.