April 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13), center Henrik Zetterberg (40), defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55), and center Damien Brunner (24) celebrate a goal by left wing Johan Franzen (93) in the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings' Race to the Playoffs Scenarios

We’ve been keeping ourselves up at night for the past few weeks, worrying about the Red Wings’ playoff chances. And it’s been unbearable this entire week. The Detroit Red Wings last four games of the season are definite must-wins in order to make it into the eighth seed so they won’t miss the playoffs for the first time in over two decades.

That’s a thought that frightens us.

It began with a game Monday night against Phoenix, the biggest must-win of the bunch, because if it had been a loss, the team would have been three points behind eighth place with only a game at hand. Currently, the team sits one point out of eighth place with a game at hand and three points out of seventh with a game at hand.

The scenarios and results are endless, so for brevity’s sake, let’s analyze a few of the possibilities. Keep in mind that the game at hand we have on Columbus is extremely important.

The Situation

Detroit: Has three games remaining against Los Angeles, Nashville, and Dallas

Columbus: Has two games remaining against Dallas and Nashville

Dallas: Has two games remaining against Columbus and Detroit

It’s very unfortunate that Columbus and Dallas are playing each other at the very end of the season, because anything that goes into extra time will give each of them a point and hurt us. And it’s very unfortunate that our last game of the season is against Dallas.

Scenario #1

The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight. Dallas beats Columbus tomorrow in regulation.

What has to happen: If the Red Wings lose on Thursday to Nashville, they will have to beat Dallas in regulation on Saturday in the last season of the game.

And in case you didn’t happen to watch our Google Hangout here at Octopus Thrower, my prediction is that the Wings will have to beat Dallas in the last game in regulation, but will do so in overtime and not make the playoffs. I know, ready your pitchforks.

Scenario #2

Columbus beats Dallas tomorrow in regulation. The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight.

What has to happen: If the Red Wings lose on Thursday to Nashville in regulation, they will have to beat Dallas on Saturday in the last season of the game and Columbus would have to lose to Nashville on Saturday.

Scenario #3

Dallas beats Columbus tomorrow in regulation. The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight and Nashville on Thursday.

What has to happen: The game against Dallas on Saturday would insignificant. Even if Columbus wins against Nashville, that would only give them 53 points on the season, and going in to the Dallas game, the Red Wings would have 54 points.

There would be a heck of a lot less pressure on the Red Wings, but this, of course, is the best-case scenario and it would give the Wings a chance to rest Jimmy Howard.

Scenario #4

Dallas beats Columbus tomorrow in overtime. The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight and lose in OT/SO to Nashville on Thursday.

What has to happen: If Columbus wins their game against Nashville, the Red Wings would just have to beat Dallas on Saturday.

Scenerio #5

Columbus beats Dallas tomorrow in overtime. The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight in regulation and lose in OT/SO to Nashville on Thursday.

What has to happen: If Columbus wins their last game of the season against Nashville then the Red Wings would have to beat Dallas.

If Columbus loses the game overtime then the Red Wings would have to win or at least take Dallas in overtime for the extra point.

If Columbus loses the game in regulation then the Red Wings can start Jonas Gustavsson.

Scenario #6

Dallas beats Columbus tomorrow in overtime. The Red Wings beat Los Angeles tonight and lose in regulation to Nashville on Thursday.

What has to happen: If Columbus wins their last game of the season either in regulation or overtime, Detroit will have to win in regulation against Dallas on Saturday. Detroit holds the tiebreaker for regulation/overtime wins, 19 to Columbus’s 17, so keep that in mind, too.

Hm…there seems to be a common thread in many of these scenarios…

It comes down to this: If Columbus wins the rest of their games in regulation then the Red Wings must win at least two games, one in regulation, and receive an overtime point. 55 points for Detroit and 55 points for Columbus and Detroit would hold the ROW tiebreaker.

If Dallas wins the rest of their games in regulation then the Red Wings must at least win one game and salvage and overtime point. 53 points for Detroit and 52 for Dallas.

While the possibilities are not exactly endless, there are far too many scenarios that can play out. One thing is certain: the result of tonight’s Red Wings game will be very telling for what they will have to overcome in the final two games of the season.

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Tags: Detroit Red Wings NHL Playoffs

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