On January 18, the Detroit Red Wings seemed like they were contending for playoff spot, but most of the fans understood it was an illusion. The Atlantic Division rival Boston Bruins held the final spot and were five points ahead of Detroit. But the Bruins had played five fewer games.
When the season was over, the Red Wings were 33 points behind the Bruins. The exclamation point on their lack of competitiveness was their goal-differential of -82.
The four Atlantic Division teams that made the playoffs were at +35 or better. Even the Ottawa Senators, who finished one point behind Detroit in the Atlantic standings, finished at -39.