The Detroit Red Wings playoff hopes just got a lot more complicated

March and April are the times you either sink or swim in the NHL, over the past five weeks the Detroit Red Wings have turned into an anchor.
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Things are becoming much more complicated in the Eastern Conference wild card race. Only six games remain in the regular season for the Detroit Red Wings, and they have just one path into the postseason. Detroit will host the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon in their next 'must-win' contest. At this point, every game is a must-win for the Red Wings, but unfortunately, winning hasn't been a common theme for this group over the past month-plus. The Tampa Bay Lightning recently clinched a playoff berth and currently controls the first wild card position in the East, leaving the Red Wings to battle it out with a host of teams for the final spot.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recently rode a four-game win streak into the final wild card position, leapfrogging the Red Wings, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins were a team that most of us had our eye on as they sat outside looking in but had the horses to make a run.

As Mickey Redmond mentioned during Detroit's loss to the New York Rangers, look out for Sidney Crosby, the soon-to-be 37-year-old who is still playing at an elite level and plays every game as if it's his last. Ken Daniels was quick to agree. With Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Erik Karlsson, the Penguins can be a real threat to anyone in the postseason if they can get some consistent goaltending. Speaking of which, former Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves to help the Penguins overpower the Tampa Bay Lightning and reach 83 points on the year.

The Detroit Red Wings still control their own destiny.

The Penguins, Capitals, and Flyers are all battling for the final wild card position with the Red Wings, but those three can still unseat the New York Islanders for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division. The Patrick Roy-led Islanders currently have 85 points over 77 games, and although they are in the third spot, they could quickly find themselves on the outside looking in if they lose a game or two. Like the Penguins, the Islanders have won four in a row.

The Flyers are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, and the Capitals have lost five in a row. The Red Wings are 4-4-2 over their past ten, but they are in dire need of a victory on Sunday afternoon over the Sabres, and they'd propel themselves back into the final playoff spot. If the Red Wings lose on Sunday, Buffalo will be a mere one point behind the Red Wings.

Detroit and Washington each have 82 points, and both have a game in hand on Buffalo, Washington, Pittsburgh, and the Islanders. They also have two games in hand on the Flyers. Although things have looked bleak over the past month, the Red Wings still control their own destiny.

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