Kulfan said the team’s season was a “step forward” despite missing the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, tying the franchise’s longest playoff drought from 1970-77.
“Points wise, it was a mild disappointment,” Kulfan said on the podcast. “I think I had them pegged at 84 or 85 points but like Derek (Lalonde) has been saying these last couple of weeks it’s going to be difficult to evaluate this team because it’s almost like two completely different teams.
“Before the trade deadline, we were talking about the playoff chase. They were right above the playoff line on Feb. 23 after they beat the Rangers and then those two losses in Ottawa seemed to change everything. It solidified Steve Yzerman’s decision to go heavy at the deadline.
“He shipped away (Tyler) Bertuzzi, (Filip) Hronek, (Jakub) Vrana, (Oskar) Sundqvist and decimated the depth in the lineup. From there, they were 7-15-1. It was a stark difference. Collectively, if you add it all up, they still made a six-point improvement but as they said yesterday, there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Here are highlights from episode 89 of the The Detroit News’ OctoPulse podcast:
1:30: A tale of two seasons
3:00: Steve Yzerman on where team needs to improve
6:30: Lack of offensive firepower
7:45: Interview with Shawn and William Horcoff
31:00: Yzerman on “competitiveness, playing hard”
34:10: Team’s lack of abrasiveness
36:30: Derek Lalonde on the high point of the season
37:00: Playoff-type atmosphere at LCA