Despite losing captain Dylan Larkin to injury for a couple of weeks, the Detroit Red Wings are still favored to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 2023-24 National Hockey League season.
The Red Wings have a 15-12-4 record (34 points), which is fourth–most points in the Atlantic Divison as of Dec. 11.
Ahead of Detroit are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. Each has the same number of points (38) but Toronto has a higher points percentage to occupy the second-place spot, and the Panthers, who hold the third-place position in the Atlantic Division at 18-11-2 (38 points).
The Boston Bruins lead the Atlantic Division by a wide margin with a 19-5-5 record and are tied with the New York Rangers for the most points in the Eastern Conference.
With Boston (-2000 to make the postseason), Toronto (-720 to make the postseason), and Florida (-530 to make the postseason) each favored to run away with the top three divisional spots, Detroit is more likely to factor into the Eastern Conference wild-card race.
And that is where things get interesting.
The Red Wings are currently tied with the Washington Capitals for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with its 34 points, but Washington has the winning percentage advantage. The Red Wings are one point behind Carolina for the top wild card.
Former back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning are also in the picture with 33 points.
Usual playoff contenders like the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins are also still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
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The Red Wings currently have -122 odds to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those odds are the eighth-best among Eastern Conference teams, favoring them to make the dance when it’s all said and done.
In relation to the teams in the wild card race, Detroit is behind Carolina, New Jersey, and Tampa Bay while ahead of the New York Islanders.
They are also ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who are second in the Metropolitan Divison with a 15-10-2 record (32 points) and hold +148 playoff odds.
The Washington Capitals, who are third in the Metropolitan Division at 14-8-3 (31 points), are also projected to be out of the playoff race according to Vegas odds at +230 to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With two-thirds of the NHL season still left to be played, there is a lot that can happen between now and when the playoff bracket is locked in come April.
But even with Larkin out of an indefinite amount of time following his injury on Saturday, Vegas believes that Detroit can withstand it and make the playoffs once he returns to the lineup in full health.
No matter when that is, betting odds project that Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, and company have what it takes to step up and win while their captain recovers.