Two big games, two late wins for the Red Wings.
With wins over Buffalo and Calgary, the Wings have pushed themselves into eighth place in the playoff race, one game back of Nashville and three games ahead of the Flames. If they can continue to play strong over the last 13 games of the season, I think the Wings could jump into the sixth spot in the playoffs, and avoid either Chicago or San Jose in the conference quarters. Although, I am gaining faith in this group because of their play over the last week.
With a win over the Blackhawks last week, and a win over the Sabers and Ryan Miller this weekend, and then a big road win over Calgary tonight, the Wings are looking like a scary team who could be on a roll come playoff time.
They are in a unique position right now. usually they are trying to secure the Presidents Trophy at this time of the season, and are nowhere near playing with a win or go home attitude. This season, if the Wings can get themselves into the playoffs, they could be like those No. 8 seeds that have knocked them out of the first rounds over the seasons. Even though I am hoping to get the sixth seed, I think it would be awesome if they finished eighth and got to do someone like they have been done, and if it is Chicago, it would be that much sweeter.
The way I look at it, in a very strong Western Conference, if the Wings can get to 98 points at the end of the season, they are going to be in a good position to get in. They are currently at 80 points and have 13 games left on the schedule.
If the Wings were to go .500 over the next 13 games, Calgary would have to finish two games over .500 to jump the Wings.
A win Friday and the Wings could take over the seventh spot, and pull five points ahead of Calgary. With the Blues sitting in the 10th spot with 73 points, it looks like the Flames are the only team on the outside looking in that has a realistic chance to knock out one of the top eight.
This has been one of the toughest seasons to be a Red Wing fan, but looking at it, this season has been the perfect storm for a traditional power like the Wings to have a down year.
First, the obvious issue has been the injuries, but the key players that were out seem to be starting to hit thier stride. They could also be fresh for the playoffs, which might work in the Wings favor.
Another element is the toughness of the Western Conference, which I eluded to earlier. San Jose is the top team in the West with 96 points, while Chicago is second with 94. The only team that is better than that in the East is Washington, who is sitting way out in front of everybody with 101 points.
The defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins are in second in the East with 87 points. In fact, if the Wings were in the Eastern Conference, they would currently be in fifth place, one point ahead of Ottawa, and five behind New Jersey. Actually, Detroit might have even more points because their schedule would consist mostly of Eastern Conference teams.
Well, after tonight’s big win over Calgary, it is on to Edmonton to take on a team that has had similar problems as the Wings in the Oilers. They too have been bitten hard by the injury bug this year and are way behind everyone else in the Western Conference standings with 49 points. This is a must win for the Wings, especially with Vancouver coming up.