Red Wings feel they belong in the playoffs as hunt intensifies

The Detroit Red Wings started their difficult five-game road trip with a spirited 1-0 loss to the surging Nashville Predators.

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It's become quite evident that the playoff race will likely remain fierce until the regular season's final game.

The Capitals have one game in hand and lead the Red Wings by one point in the wild card race. The Capitals simply won't go away; they beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night 7-6 in a shootout and cruised past the Jets 3-0 on Sunday.

The NHL season is full of runs, good ones like the Red Wings enjoyed in January and February, and downward runs as we witnessed in March. With March Madness in full swing, I can't help but add a pun. At the end of the day, water always finds its level. It's just ironic that it is the Capitals giving the Red Wings a run for their money at the moment after deciding to sell off a few assets at the deadline, moving Anthony Mantha to Vegas and Evgeny Kuznetsov to Carolina. Detroit will travel to Washington on Tuesday to play the Capitals in the biggest game of the season to date (they're all big from here on out), and quite frankly, the biggest game in the past seven years with a four-point swing on the line.

The playoff race continues to intensify, but the Red Wings feel like they belong.

With about three weeks and 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings have a playoff berth in their grasp. While some members of the national media have recently referred to them as frauds, it feels real to Moritz Seider.

"I think it feels special, but it also feels real," Moritz Seider said. "We earned it to be in this position. We just have to put nerves or excitement by the side and grind. Every game is a playoff game for us and hopefully we can build momentum and be ready for something we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a lot more fun playing intense games now and hopefully be part of a cool experience here."

The Red Wings sputtered to a 2-6-0 record recently without their captain, but things have vastly improved since Dylan Larkin returned to the lineup. Recently, he spoke about how difficult watching the team struggle in his absence was, but he never doubted that the team 'cared.'

"It was extremely challenging, but I think we’re all in this together," he said. "Every season is long and things happen and whatnot. We have a special group and we showed it. I never question our care, or how much guys care for each other and the team in that room, and I knew we would come out of this and turn it around. Our whole goal all year has been trying to write a story as a group and play for each other. I’m really proud of the way this group has done that all season long. If you asked any guy in that room if we’d be in this position, everyone would take it. It just validates that feeling, that we belong in the playoffs."

Red Wings fans, as we come out of turn four and head down the final straightaway of the season, as Samuel L. Jackson famously said in the film Jurassic Park, 'hold onto your butts' it's going to be an intense ride.