Detroit Red Wings: An updated look at the playoff picture

Octopus Thrower

Heavily improving from their 2020-21 campaign, the Detroit Red Wings have been perpetually “in the hunt” for the playoff picture this season. Let’s head to the standings to see if there is any shot at Detroit making the playoffs.

The Red Wings are probably not a playoff caliber team yet. Even when the Wings were technically in a wildcard spot, it was only because they had played more games. Carried by players like Dylan Larkin and Moritz Seider, Detroit took advantage of an easy early schedule to climb up the standings. Now, with the season in full swing, Detroit has fallen back significantly in the race.

In fact, the Columbus Blue Jackets have pulled ahead of the Red Wings in the wildcard race. With the same amount of games played under their belt, the Blue Jackets have 59 points to the Red Wings 54.

As stated before, Detroit was gifted with an easy opening schedule, but things have gotten much harder of late. For example, last week, the Red Wings played the Hurricanes, the Lightning and the Panthers, one after the other. That’s three of the best teams in the league. And in the coming weeks, things only get a bit easier. The Red Wings play the Wild, the Flames and the Oilers after hosting the Coyotes. While not quite as strong as the previous opponents, that’s a really solid trio of teams. Beyond that, teams like the Rangers, the Lightning and the Penguins will face off against Detroit more than once.

With such a rough stretch, there’s a good chance that Columbus firmly steps ahead of Detroit to finish out the season (although their schedule is pretty difficult as well).

In all honesty, it’s very likely that neither Columbus nor Detroit will end up in a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals are slotted into the wildcard. Both those teams are significantly better than the Red Wings, and they have quite a few more points (Boston has 72, Washington has 69). If Detroit has any shot at the playoffs, one of these two teams would have to collapse completely.

Fans have understood all season that the post-season was extremely unlikely. But down the stretch, the odds are stretching thinner and thinner. Instead of looking at the NHL standings, Red Wings fans should probably just focus on their rookie stars and the development of the other young players.

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