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Only One Team Can Stop Red Wings From Making Playoffs

Rugged road swing on tap for Detroit



Dylan Larkin, Red Wings
Captain Dylan Larkin likes the way the Red Wings have rallied this season.

At this juncture of the season, there is only one squad capable of preventing the Detroit Red Wings from ending their seven-season NHL postseason absence.

That would be the guys they see every morning when they look in the mirror.

The Red Wings have met the enemy, and it is them.

Detroit is embarking on a road trip from hell. The next five games for the Red Wings are at Nashville (Saturday), Washington (Tuesday), Carolina (Thursday), Florida (Saturday) and Tampa Bay (Monday).

Detroit has lost four in a row at Nashville. The Predators are currently the NHL’s hottest squad, with points in 16 successive games (14-0-2). Washington is 6-3-1 in the last 10 home games vs Detroit. At the moment riding a five-game win streak, Carolina is 4-1 the last five times hosting the Red Wings. Florida has won nine of 11 home games from Detroit, while the Red Wings show three wins over their past 22 visits to Tampa Bay.

Finishing this trip with an 0-5 slate would not be out of the question.

And really, that’s the only way any of the teams currently chasing Detroit for the second Eastern Conference wild card spot can get back in the hunt.

“It’s going to start one game at a time with an opportunity against Nashville, but we got to try to eat any point we can get on this road trip,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said.

Currently with 78 points, the Red Wings are three points clear of the Washington Capitals. The New York Islanders are five points back. New Jersey (72), Buffalo (71) and Pittsburgh (69) are running on fumes.

True, both the Capitals (two) and Islanders (one) are holding games in hand on the Red Wings. However, if Detroit just takes care of business, those numbers become immaterial.

The Red Wings, as the saying goes, control their own destiny. Only they can blow it.

Red Wings Adept At Failure

While we’re being honest, let’s remember that the only reason there’s a race at all for that final playoff spot is because the Red Wings took a great fall. They were at least eight points clear of everyone before embarking on a seven-game skid the would open the door for the challengers to gain ground.

One again, that’s the only manner in which those in pursuit can catch Detroit. The Red Wings must stumble.

Even a 2-3 slate on this upcoming road sojourn should be enough to get them home and cooled out. That would prove especially true should they take care of business on Tuesday in Washington. As poorly as the club played in dropping seven in a row, Detroit is now 3-1 over the past four games. They were victorious in key recent home dates against Buffalo and the Islanders. Those triumphs virtually snuffed out the playoff dreams for both of those clubs.

“When you play games like that, it just validates that feeling that we belong in the playoffs,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said. “That’s our goal.

“You know there’s gonna be bumps. I don’t exactly how many games we have left (12), but there’s gonna be bumps and we’ve shown that we can stick together.

“That’s what’s important.”

The Wings face non-playoff teams in four of their last six regular-season games. Survive this trip and the playoffs will be their destiny.

If not, then they’ll only have themselves to blame.