The Streak Lives: Detroit Red Wings make playoffs for 23rd straight season

Detroit Red Wings' Jakub Kindl (4) returns to the bench after his goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Detroit Red Wings earned a point against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, rallying with a Riley Sheahan goal to send the game to overtime before losing in a shootout, 4-3.

Your first reaction might be, “Hey, who’s Riley Sheahan?”, and that’s sort of the point: The Red Wings clinched their 23rd straight postseason berth with guys like Sheahan playing upwards of 40 games, scoring 23 points on the year, after playing in the AHL last season.

This was a team that had Coach Mike Babcock staring at a white board in his office for most of the season, trying to figure out which kid was going to replace which injured veteran on any given night.

This was a team that fought its way into a postseason spot and maintained it without having Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg on the ice for the whole of March.

This was a team that, even without the injuries, had a sizable collection of recent Grand Rapids graduates filling out the roster.

This was this year the historic streak was supposed to die. And it didn’t. (Luckily, Brock Lesnar’s not in the Eastern Conference.)

There probably aren’t enough accolades you can throw at Babcock for the job he did coaching this team through adversity this season. I believe it’s enough to earn him his first Jack Adams, after years of inexplicable snubs, but there’s no denying the Patrick Roy movement, especially with the Colorado Avalanche closing in on first in the conference.

Babcock will just have to settle for having maintained the Red Wings’ legacy of excellence for another season, and whatever this team might still achieve in the postseason.

The longest active playoff streak in pro sports lives on.