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NHL Death Watch: Red Wings’ 21-season playoff streak in trouble; East bubble madness

Greg Wyshynski
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Since we're down to the final moments of postseason life for teams in contention, Puck Daddy solemnly begins a daily countdown to annihilation.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have scratched and clawed their way into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference through some gutsy wins. But it’s the Detroit Red Wings that opened the door for them, thanks to losses like the 3-2 defeat against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

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(Oh, and fare thee well, Calgary Flames, who were eliminated from playoff contention thanks to the Jackets’ win over the Ducks in OT.)

The Wings’ 21-season playoff streak is now at risk with five games left on their schedule. They do have a game in-hand on Columbus, who plays at Los Angeles on Thursday night.

From George Johnson of the Windsor Star:

If this current fight to actually slide into the playoffs has done anything, it's reinforced how ridiculously well the Wings have been run for over two decades. Through changing times, financial landscapes, personnel turnovers and trends, they've been the constant.

"Pressure?" said coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday. "When you get 125 points and you drop the puck in the first round, there's pressure. Pressure usually means you have a chance. Now, the pressure's on us is to maximize our potential and be as good as we're capable of being.

"I think we're where we should be, to be honest with you. I think we're battling hard. I've heard all year we're not consistent. We are consistent. You go through each month we're one game or two games over (. 500) each month. This is what we are. We've got to find a way to crawl into the playoffs.”

The other concern for Detroit: The Dallas Stars, who are two points behind them, have a game in-hand and play the Wings in the season finale.

Coming up, the playoff pictures for the East and West, as we shift the focus to playoff seeding. The full NHL standings and schedules can be found on Y! Sports.

All playoff percentages are from Sports Club Stats; tragic numbers and other figures via the NHL. A team is eliminated from play-offs when their "Tragic Number" hits 0.

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Ottawa Senators (6) 6th/50/18 - 97.9 20 9
New York Islanders (5) 7th/49/19 - 84.5 36 29
New York Rangers (6) 8th/46/17 - 81.6 31 36
Winnipeg Jets (5) 9th/46/20 10 38.3 7 20
Buffalo Sabres (4) 10th/44/13 6 1.2 0 1
Philadelphia Flyers (5) 11th/41/18 5 0.4 0 0
New Jersey Devils (6) 12th/40/13 6 0.3 0 0
Tampa Bay Lightning (5) 13th/38/16 2 0.0 - 0
Carolina Hurricanes (6) 14th/36/17 2 0.0 - 0

Critical night in the Eastern Conference, with every playoff contender save for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in action.

The Washington Capitals are in Ottawa, holding a 4-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets, whom they face next Tuesday.

The Montreal Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning, having slipped to the No. 4 seed after Boston’s OT loss on Wednesday night. The Bruins still have a game in-hand. Smells like Habs and Leafs in Round 1, doesn’t it?

The Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York Islanders, who could end the night as high as the No. 6 seed in the East. But the Isles finish with five road games, including this one.

The New York Rangers have a decision to make: Is this going to be easy or difficult? They play the Florida Panthers at home; stumble there, and the Jets could pass them with a win over Carolina. New York would still have a game in-hand.

The Flyers also face the Devils in a battle of teams that are still alive for the playoffs but probably would be better off losing for the draft lottery.

Both Tampa and Carolina can be eliminated this evening.

Team (Games Remaining) Place/Pts/ROW Tragic # % Chance of Playoffs % Chance of 7th % Chance of 8th
Minnesota Wild (5) 6th/51/20 - 97.7 34 7
St. Louis Blues (6) 7th/50/20 - 97.8 21 5
Columbus Blue Jackets (4) 8th/49/16 - 40.4 8 30
Detroit Red Wings (5) 9th/47/18 10 40.3 7 31
Dallas Stars (6) 10th/45/19 10 22.7 4 17
Phoenix Coyotes (6) 11th/43/15 8 2.9 0 3
Edmonton Oilers (6) 12th/39/14 4 0.0 - 0

The tightly packed middle of the West could get tighter if the Wild can defeat the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, whom they currently trail by two points. In fact, if Columbus continues its miraculous roll with a win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Wild could tie both LA and San Jose in points tonight.

The Dallas Stars have two games in-hand on the Jackets, and host the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

The St. Louis Blues host the Phoenix Coyotes, hoping to keep pace with the Wild and create some space off the bubble.

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