We're about to find out what the Detroit Red Wings are all about

The Detroit Red Wings will square off with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night in the biggest game they've been apart of in nearly a decade.
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Are you enjoying this roller coaster ride? Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and slowly exhale. The Detroit Red Wings are amid a wild playoff chase, and the standings change daily, sometimes multiple times a day, depending on who and when they are playing. Things are so tight in the Eastern Conference.

There are a host of teams battling for third place in the Metropolitan Division and the final wild-card spot. Unlike the rest of the teams in the fight, the Red Wings only have one path to the postseason: maintaining the final wild-card spot.

Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Islanders all have two positions or opportunities to qualify. It's a reason why the 'new' playoff format is being scrutinized of late. The old format used to seed the teams one through eight in the conference regardless of which division they were in; this format won't always guarantee the eight best teams in the conference will qualify for the playoffs, but it adds additional tension and enhances the rivalries within each division.

We're about to see what the Detroit Red Wings are made of.

The Detroit Red Wings, who currently have 84 points, will play their biggest game in nearly a decade on Tuesday night when they host the Washington Capitals. The Capitals enter the night having lost six games in a row but most recently gained a point in their overtime loss Sunday evening to the Ottawa Senators. The Capitals will roll into Detroit, trailing the Red Wings by just a point.

Following the Red Wings 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon over the Buffalo Sabres, head coach Derek Lalonde was curious how his team will handle the pressure on Tuesday at home against Washington. That's the million-dollar question. I'd hope that the Red Wings come out flying like they did this past Sunday, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead on the Sabres, but hopefully, rather than clicking on the cruise control, they put the pedal to the metal. Lalonde also praised his goaltender Alex Lyon for his sensational 37 save effort, 17 of which came in the third frame this past Sunday. Again, rather than sitting in cruise control, hopefully, the Red Wings continue to keep the throttle set to full and refuse to sit back and hope to survive like we've seen them do so often this season, but it seems more frequent of late.

A few players drive the Red Wings, but when you break it down into position groups, it's Dylan Larkin, Moritz Seider, and Alex Lyon. Larkin drives the bus. Detroit's captain is a point-per-game player who excels in all situations. He leads the Red Wings forwards by playing about 20 minutes per game. It became quite evident how important Larkin is to this Detroit team by how horrible the Red Wings performed while Larkin was sidelined with injuries in December and March.

Seider leads Detroit's backend. The young German defender already draws the most challenging assignments in the game; analytically, he's played the most torturous minutes against the best opponents in the league this season. That's impressive, considering he turned 23 years old. Seider has totaled eight goals and 40 points over 77 games this season. On Sunday, Detroit's top defender blocked ten shots. Buffalo, as a team, blocked nine. At the time, Seider's 206 blocks led the league, and it's already a career-high in the category with five games to go in the regular season.

Goaltender Alex Lyon appreciated the effort Sunday from Seider. “I really genuinely appreciate it,” Lyon said. “I understand how to block shots with a whole host of gear, and it hurts for those guys, and Mo always has multiple ice bags on after every game. I just give him a lot of credit. He's fearless, along with all the other guys. So, it really resonates with our team a lot. And I think it makes us better.”

The fact of the matter is that the Detroit Red Wings will go as far as Lyon can take them. “A lot of guys in our room have played in big games,” Lyon said. “I think it's muscle memory, and it's brain memory. ... I just think that the more you expose yourself to it — you get better at it. So it's good. And I think you got to turn the page quickly, enjoy it for about an hour or two, and then start worrying about the next one.”

Although Detroit has a ton of players with postseason, Stanley Cup experience in particular, Patrick Kane, J.T. Compher, David Perron, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry, and Andrew Copp, Detroit's goaltending will need to perform as it did during their hot stretch to begin 2024 through January and February.

Detroit's final five games will line up as follows: at home Tuesday against the Capitals, followed by road games in Pittsburgh and Toronto. Detroit will conclude the regular season with a home-and-home with the Montreal Canadiens. If the Red Wings can win the first two over Washington and Penguins in regulation, one additional win might be enough to qualify for the playoffs, but winning four of their final five would surely be enough. People will say, oh, win all five, but that's easier said than done. Plus, have you followed this team at all this season? They haven't seemed to do anything easy, they're going to keep us guessing until the final buzzer in Montreal, you can bet on that.