Red Wings’ Path to the 2024 Playoffs Becoming Clear

The Hockey Writers

With 24 games remaining on their schedule, the Detroit Red Wings are currently sitting in a playoff spot. Fans in Hockey Town have been dreaming of important games in March for years now and the team has finally delivered. The Red Wings have missed the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons (second-longest active streak in the NHL), but this might just be the year they turn things back around.

Patrick Kane Detroit Red Wings
Patrick Kane, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Detroit is in a playoff spot right now, with six standings points separating them and the first team below the wild-card bar. They will be competing for one of the two wild-card spots with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, and maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins. Technically, teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators have a chance to make the playoffs as well but that would be incredibly unlikely given the significant ground they’d need to make up in the final 20 games or so. 

Related: Red Wings’ Marco Kasper Bouncing Back After Slow AHL Start

What will it take for the Red Wings to hold onto this playoff spot and when should fans get their hopes up about playoff games in Hockey Town? Let’s take a closer look!

How Many Points Do They Need?

The bar for making a playoff spot fluctuates each year, with the average coming out to roughly 90 points, though last year the magic number was 92 in the Eastern Conference. Let’s just build some security in here and use 92 as our goal for the Red Wings this year. 

The Hockey Writers Substack banner Detroit Red Wings

After 58 games, Detroit sits with 70 points, meaning they’d need to earn 22 points in their final 24 games to give themselves a good chance of making the playoffs this season. That averages out to a points percentage (P%) of 0.44 over the final quarter of the season, a very reasonable rate for a Detroit team that currently has a 0.60 P%. 

Alex Lyon Detroit Red Wings
Alex Lyon, Detroit Red Wings (Evan Sabourin / The Hockey Writers)

For the purpose of illustration, a 0.44 P% could look like a 10-13-2 record, so it’s entirely possible that the Red Wings could have a losing record over the season’s final month or two and still have a good shot at playing postseason hockey. That points percentage would actually be the worst running average over 25 games that the team has played all season.

22 points in their final 24 games is very doable at this point in the season, especially considering Detroit’s reasonable schedule strength.

Average Schedule Difficulty From Here On Out

Schedule Strength is a number that averages the points percentage of every team remaining on the schedule for a given team, illustrating roughly how tough their remaining games will be. Here’s the good news, Detroit is tied for the 16th/17th hardest remaining schedule, meaning they’ve got an exactly average level of challenge ahead of them.

Related: The NHL’s Top 100 Prospects – Midseason Update

The even better news is that four of the five teams Detroit is battling with for a playoff spot (Tampa is the outlier) have more difficult remaining schedules meaning the Red Wings have the advantage when it comes to holding onto their wild-card spot. Not only does Detroit have a lead in the standings, but their path from now until the playoffs compares favourably against their competitors.

A New Trade Deadline Plan

Detroit is finally in a position to move from a cautious seller to a cautious buyer at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline. Gone are the days of selling off any pieces of value to try and build for the future, it’s time to commit to this group and possibly to even add a complementary piece or two.

If this season had gone south at the start of the New Year and Detroit was sitting in the 50-60 point range at this point, then we’d probably be talking about guys like Patrick Kane and David Perron as deadline trade targets, but that’s incredibly unlikely now. While there’s no guarantee that Kane sticks around past this season in Detroit, his 28 points in 27 games played this year represents an incredibly valuable addition to the team’s forward group and he will not be on the move in the next week or two.

Another player who could have been in trade talks if this season had worked out differently is Perron who would likely have had some value for a contender looking for a solid veteran presence in their middle-six, especially if Detroit was willing to retain some salary. Instead, it appears that Perron is likely to extend with the Red Wings, keeping him in Hockey Town for the foreseeable future.

David Perron Detroit Red Wings
David Perron, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

One more reason that Detroit won’t be a seller this year is that their one position of depth is the left side of defense, but they don’t really have anyone of value that they’d be willing to part with. Foundational pieces like Jake Walman and Simon Edvinsson obviously aren’t for sale and veterans like Olli Määttä and Justin Holl are unlikely to draw much interest at this point given the term and cash guaranteed to them by recently inked contracts. Moving on from at least one such player, even if they needed to sweeten the deal a bit for the buyer, could favourably impact the team, partly by making space in the lineup for Edvinsson to grow into.

Scoreboard Watching Guide

If you find yourself doing some scoreboard watching, here’s a few quick rules for who to cheer for/against:

  1. If you see any game that features one team from each conference, it’s always a safe bet to cheer for the Western Conference team.
  2. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, feel free to cheer for the Senators since seven of their remaining games are against teams in direct competition with Detroit for a wild-card spot and Ottawa themselves are a very unlikely team to earn their way into the playoffs this year. Plus, it’ll make their fans pretty upset which could be a bonus for you depending on your personality.
  3. Tampa is likely to earn a wild-card spot given the ridiculous offensive season they’re getting from Nikita Kucherov, so focus on cheering against the other teams, with the Penguins and Devils being the prime candidates to go on a late season heater given Pittsburgh’s wealth of older underperforming talent and New Jersey’s wealth of younger underperforming talent.

Important Games Over the Final 24

Tuesday, February 27th vs. Washington Capitals – 7 PM ET
Thursday, February 29th vs. New York Islanders – 7 PM ET

Tuesday, March 26th @ Washington Capitals – 7 PM ET

Monday, April 1st @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 7 PM ET
Tuesday, April 9th vs. Washington Capitals – 7 PM ET

Odds Are Slowly Growing

This has been a really fun season to watch for Red Wings fans, and the past two months have been especially exciting. The team’s playoff chances are slowly building with each win they line up, and it’s beginning to feel real. A losing record could still land them in the postseason for the first time since 2016, but their schedule is actually pretty reasonable so the chances of them overshooting that goal of 92 points is quite likely.

Patrick Kane Detroit Red Wings
Patrick Kane, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

At this point, I think the Red Wings are a safe bet for the playoffs, though not a lock just yet. They’ve largely been out-chanced and out-shot for large portions of the season, and while their stellar special teams play and some great finishing skill from top players has pushed them to great success, I’m not sold 100% that they are as good as they’ve been over the past two months.

Articles You May Like

5 Teams That Could Sign Patrick Kane This Offseason
SSOTD: Red Wings vs. Canadiens, 4/15/2024
Red Wings’ Patrick Kane Equals Mike Modano’s Goal-Scoring Record
Red Wings’ Simon Edvinsson: The Future Is Now
NHL Rumors: Hurricanes, Red Wings, Canadiens, Oilers, Ducks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *