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DETROIT — Dylan Larkin Saturday night after the Detroit Red Wings reached the midpoint of their season with a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena.

Unless they make a run relatively soon, they could be sellers again before the 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3.

The Red Wings have missed the Stanley Cup playoffs in the past six seasons and are 18-16-7 this season, sixth in the Atlantic Division and six points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Larkin is their captain, No. 1 center, leading scorer and representative at the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at FLA LIVE Arena in Sunrise, Fla., Feb. 4 (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS) : ) But he can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

So can attackers Tyler Bertuzzi, Adam Ern, Oscar Sundquist and: Pius Suter; defenders Oli Maatta, Jordan Esterle and: Jake Wallman; and goalkeepers Magnus Helberg and: Alex Nedelykovich.

“We care, and [we] cares about trying to turn this around, try to make the playoffs,” said Larkin, who grew up in the Detroit area and is in his eighth season with the Red Wings. “It has not been discussed yet. [about] enough [on the outside]. It’s been talked about in our locker room and we’re thinking about it. We’re trying to make a strong push here before the trade deadline.”

You had to wonder what Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman was thinking as he watched the game on Saturday.

The Red Wings had won each of their last two games against a top-10 team, beating the Winnipeg Jets 7-5 on Tuesday and the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday.

They had a chance to snap a 3-game winning streak in front of a good home crowd, and their opponents were the Blue Jackets, who were 2-12-0 in their previous 14 games and tied for NHL action on Saturday.

But the Red Wings fell behind 3-0 in the first period and 4-0 in the second period, and they heard some boos when they left the ice for the second intermission. It’s only the Blue Jackets’ first Mathieu Olivier Accidentally put the ball into their own net with 5:50 left in the third period as they showed some life, but their comeback fell short.

“We finally decided to show up in the third and time ran out,” Larkin said. “It’s a shame we didn’t just start. We didn’t fight hard enough, let their top lane have time and space, let them just float without stopping and making it difficult for them.”

Redwings have had a tendency to dig holes for themselves. Coach Derek Lalonde said it goes back to their competitive level. Ultimately, it comes back to their talent level.

“I think you saw what we are,” said Lalonde. “If we compete and execute and our competition and our fight is 9 out of 10, 10 out of 10, we can play with anybody. But we’re not good enough not to do that against anybody.”

In the offseason, the Red Wings loaned Lalonde and added Andrew Cope, Dominic Kubalik and: David Perron before Maatta and Ben Chiarot on defense; and: Will Husso at the gate. There’s no doubt they’re deeper, and Husso has given them great goaltending at times.

But sometimes their 5-on-5 play has been good and their special teams have struggled, and sometimes it’s the other way around. They had one winning streak of three games and one of four games. They have the same win total and one more point than they did in 41 games last season when they were 18-17-6.

Injuries have been an issue, but the Red Wings have gotten healthier recently. Robbie Fabbri he played five games after missing the first 35 recovering from ACL surgery he had last March. Bertuzzi has played three games after missing 16 with an upper-body injury (after missing 13 earlier this season).

“Obviously, we have made progress,” Larkin said. “We’re deeper. But we’ve been talking about … going on a run and getting some wins together, and that’s going to happen tonight. It’s disappointing.

“That’s kind of the story of the season. We win two or three and then we can’t find fourth and fifth and run well. We have to find it, and we’re talking about it. We are trying. We just… We have to do it here very soon.”

The Red Wings have 20 games left before the trade deadline, starting with the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Monday at Denver Ball Arena (3 p.m. ET; BSDET, ALT, ESPN+, SN, SN360).

“I don’t care if we play the 1st team in the League, the 32nd team in the League,” Lalonde said. “We have to have a high level of competition and performance and it will be the same against them on Monday.”



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