Detroit Red Wings don't have much room for error in ultra-tight Eastern Conference

Following a rough month of December, the Detroit Red Wings don't have much room for error in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
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The Detroit Red Wings are riding high following a very productive California-based West Coast trip. Detroit returns home from beating the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks this past week. Historically, these types of trips have not been friendly to the Red Wings; the last time they swept one of these California trips occurred in 2008.

The Red Wings also bucked another lengthy trend on Sunday night in Anaheim. It was the first time this season that Detroit had won a game without scoring four or more goals. It's bizarre, but I am happy that streak is over. I can't tell you how many times throughout Sunday's game I mumbled, " Yes, Mr. Ducksworth, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, Mr. Ducksworth" to myself, especially with the Ducks wearing a retro-type jersey. Those Mighty Ducks movies were a staple of my childhood or pre-teen life. If you were a hockey fan in my neighborhood, you imagined yourself as Charlie Conway, and many hours were spent on the pond each winter trying to perfect the famous 'triple-deke.'

The Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference playoff race is airtight. There is little room for error, and if the Detroit Red Wings didn't suffer such a horrible December, they would be right in the thick of things at the top or near the top of the Atlantic. Right now, the Detroit Red Wings sit with 44 points, good for fourth in the division.

The Red Wings are three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who also have three games in hand and trail the Boston Bruins by eleven points and the Florida Panthers by eight points, respectively. When it comes to the wild card race, things get more intense. The Red Wings are just one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Like the Red Wings, the New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Pittsburgh Penguins sit with 44 points and rank fifth and sixth in the Metropolitan Division. The New York Islanders control the fourth position with 46 points.

Airtight Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leave the Detroit Red Wings little to room for error.

Again, there is no room for error, and the Detroit Red Wings cannot afford to go on another 3-9-1 slump like they did to close December. Detroit has a tough stretch of the schedule upcoming coming with home dates against the Edmonton Oilers, who are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, followed by the Los Angeles Kings before heading out on the road. The upcoming three-game road trip will consist of stops in Toronto, Florida, and Carolina before returning home for a six-game stretch. That six-game home stand to end the month of January will be against Tampa Bay, Dallas, Philadelphia, Vegas, Ottawa, and Vancouver.

By the time the calendar turns to February, we will have a firm grasp on whether the Detroit Red Wings are prepared to sink or swim. Steve Yzerman will also know if his club wants to sell off assets again or add them ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline.