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With Playoff Race On, Red Wings Back in Wild Card Spot

Updated: Apr 10

Brian Gornick, Sports Editor

Red Wings goaltender Alex Lyon (34) catches the puck in his glove in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on April 7, 2024 at Little Caesars Arena. Photo//Scott W. Grau

As the NHL regular season is coming down to a close, the Detroit Red Wings have only five games left to play. In a season where expectations are raised under second-year head coach Derek Lalonde, the Red Wings are close to getting into a new stage of the rebuild. 

The Wings as of the publishing of this article are currently back in the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. After falling out of a playoff spot last month, the Red Wings have clawed back into the mix. 

Yesterday, the Wings played the Buffalo Sabres, with all scores from both teams coming in the first period. The Wings won 3-1, picking up two points in a tightening playoff race. 

One Eastern Conference Wild Card spot is already filled with the Tampa Bay Lightning, being the fourth team in the Atlantic Division to secure a playoff berth. In the Metropolitan Division, the Red Wings are competing against four other teams: the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers.

The Islanders are the only team that has more points than the Wings, 85 to the Wings' 84. The Penguins, Capitals, and Flyers all sit at 83 points. Only one of those teams will be guaranteed a playoff spot, with the final non-Wild Card Metropolitan Division playoff spot still up for grabs. That still leaves four teams, including the Red Wings, battling for a playoff berth for the first time since 2016.

The Wings have a prime opportunity to get ahead of the race while keeping those competitors from earning valuable points. Their next two games are against two of those teams, welcoming the Capitals to Detroit on April 9, and traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on April 11. If the Wings can win against both teams, their odds to make the playoffs will skyrocket. 

A quick flight to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs will then leave the Red Wings facing the Montreal Canadiens in a home-and-away series to end the regular season. 

If the Wings are still in the playoff race by the time they play the Canadiens, these games would be valuable for securing the final Wild Card. The Canadiens sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, and second-worst in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-36-12. 

Seeing the Red Wings back in the playoffs would be very exciting for Detroit sports, and hopefully will begin a new era of Red Wings hockey as they look to build back into a championship contender like they were in the 2010’s.

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