It’s been a real roller coaster ride this season with the Red Wings. A combination of emerging young superstars, declining veterans, unexpected contributions, and lack of expected contributions have led Detroit to a 36-25-11 record after Saturday’s 5-3 win over the division leading Florida Panthers.
As it stands after league action on Saturday, Detroit holds the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 83 points. The New York Islanders (12 games remaining) hold the first wild card spot with 85 points, while the Tampa Bay Lightning (11 games remaining) sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, also at 85 points. The Panthers (10 games remaining) and Boston Bruins (10 games remaining) are at the top of the division, with 89 and 86 points, respectively. The Pittsburgh Penguins (11 games remaining) and New York Rangers (10 games remaining), who are both in the Metropolitan Division, could still factor in the wild card race as well.
The teams that are behind Detroit in the standings cannot be forgotten either, however. The Philadelphia Flyers (12 games remaining) are in striking distance, with 80 points, while the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators are both at 76 points.
Regulation and overtime wins, or ROW (first playoff tie-breaker) need to be considered as well. Here is where each team sits in that category:
|New York Rangers||37|
|New York Islanders||34|
With 10 games left for Detroit and Carolina, and a four game lead in ROW for Detroit, the Hurricanes would likely have to finish with more points than the Red Wings to qualify for the playoffs. They would need to earn eight more points than Detroit in the last 10 games to place higher at the end of the year.
Ottawa has only nine games remaining, trails Detroit by six ROW, and would almost certainly not beat the Red Wings in the tie breaker. They would need to earn eight more points than Detroit in their last nine games (Detroit has a game in hand) to place higher.
Philadelphia has 12 games remaining, and currently trails Detroit by two ROW. Assuming (because that’s what this entire piece is… assumptions) that Philadelphia’s two games in hand are regulation wins, that would put them in a tie with Detroit in the first tie breaker, as well as one point ahead in the overall standing. Detroit would have to earn either two more points than Philadelphia in the last 10 games (would give Detroit the lead outright), or earn one more point plus one more ROW than Philadelphia over the last ten games (would give Detroit the lead via the first tie breaker).
In order for Detroit to move up from the second wild card spot, they would have to catch either the Islanders (or Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold a one point lead on the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division) for the first wild card spot, or the Lightning, which would move them to third in the Atlantic Division.
The Islanders have 12 games remaining, and 34 ROW (same as Detroit). Again, assuming that the Islanders two games in hand over Detroit are regulation wins (and they don’t climb to third place or higher in their division), the Red Wings would need to earn either seven more points than the Islanders in their last 10 games (outright lead), or six more points plus one more ROW than the Islanders (lead via tie break) to finish higher in the wild card race.
The Penguins have 11 games remaining, and 36 ROW (two more than Detroit). If the Penguins game in hand is a regulation win (and they fall lower than third in their division), Detroit would either need either five more points in their last 10 games plus four more ROW’s than Pittsburgh in their last 10 games (lead via tie break), or six more points than Pittsburgh in their last 10 games (outright lead) to finish higher in the wild card race.
The Rangers have 10 games remaining, and 37 ROW (three more than Detroit). Since there are no games in hand with the Rangers, no assumptions need to be made. If the Rangers would fall lower than third in their division, the Red Wings would need to finish with either six more points in their last 10 games than the Rangers (outright lead), or with five more points and four more ROW than the Rangers in their last ten games (lead via tie breaker).
Anything can happen over the course of the last handful of games across the league, but this is a rough blueprint of the Red Wings path to the playoffs.