It’s probably been difficult for you to focus lately. If you’re reading a story with a title like this then you’re one of us. You care a lot about what others are going to consider a nothing week in April. You’re probably a Wings fan but you could be a Bruins fan too. I know I’ve found myself on sites like this reading about Bergeron’s magic or how high the Ghost will place in Calder voting after this week. What makes hockey so beautiful is exactly what is happening right now. Only four of eight playoff spots are accounted for in the East. The Florida Panthers could very well finish atop the Atlantic division. Multiple teams aren’t even sure what division they’ll be up against come the first round and that’s if they make the playoffs at all. What can we do at a time like this to maybe help calm the nerves? Maybe we can try and live by the old adage that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Let’s take a peek at the numbers behind the final week for the Wings.
How about some quick stats to ease your troubled minds? Since the 2010-2011 NHL season, the Red Wings have gone 10-4-3 in their final week of play. There have been some heroics in there as well, like the 3-0 win over Dallas in 2013 to clinch a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. That game actually began the streak the Wings find themselves on now of shutting out opponents the last three years straight in game 82. This all sounds pretty good for our hopes but how does it stack up to Boston and Philly’s final weeks? Well, it’s hard to say. Boston, as perpetual cup contenders for a few of those years, went into the final week resting up for deep runs while Philly had already fallen out of the playoff conversation entirely at some points. I guess we could give Detroit the experience advantage when it comes to final week desperation wins but that’s not much to hope on right now.
Detroit gets both teams this week so maybe we can look at how they have stacked up this season? Detroit has yet to beat the Flyers after going 0-1-1 in two meetings and they were a mediocre 1-1-1 against the Bruins. They’ve fared decently against the Rangers with a 1-0-1 record but again, nothing to write home about. No real advantage there for any of the three teams fighting this out. The fact of the matter is that when that puck drops anything could happen. The Flyers are 11-3-2 since the start of March and have seemed unstoppable at times in that stretch. The Bruins on the other hand only have three wins in their last ten games but have the easiest schedule of the three with a home stretch the includes the Canes and the Sens. Again, nothing to put our worries to ease here.
What if things stay tight and we find ourselves in a tie with any of these other teams? Well, as it stands right now the Wings actually have the first tiebreaker with their 38 ROW (regulation and overtime wins, no shootout wins) but again, that’s subject to change this week. Fingers crossed that should opponents get their wins they come in the shootout. Let’s hope we don’t need to go past ROW for tiebreakers because our season series aren’t phenomenal like we’ve talked about already and that goal differential got ugly real fast over the past month.
With the exception of the injury-plagued 2013-2014 season, it’s always felt like the Wings would find a way to figure it out and extend the streak. Things feel a little different this time around, though. I’ve talked about it on the site before but this feels like a team that is fragmented. There are three games to go and we’re not sure who the starting goalie is. We’re not 100% sure which forwards are going to play together and which six skaters make up our defence. We don’t know if our best player is going to leave us with $7.5M in dead cap next year. Even our assistant coach seems like he might be jumping ship. What the Wings have this year that they’ve never had before at this time are distractions. The focus has always been to keep the streak alive because once the playoffs start, it’s a whole new game. The longest active playoff streak in North American professional sports is on the verge of ending and it’s not even the main story coming out of news outlets writing about the Wings today. Maybe we can attribute that to everyone knowing the drill by now with how the Wings have closed out seasons as of late, but maybe it’s representative of a focus that has shifted from a single, united goal, to one that has everyone trying to cover multiple bases at once.
It’s going to take a team effort. It’s going to take sacrifice, special teams, determination and a good amount of luck. All I know is that I hope in this case, history does find a way to repeat itself.