After 25 years of making the playoffs, the Wings may be faced with one of the weirdest questions they’ve had to ask in a long time: could they possibly finish last? Well, it’s certainly more plausible than you think.
First off, look at where they sit in the standings as of today.
As of today, the Red Wings sit in 26th in the league. That’s, uh, not good. To make things worse, the Islanders and Sabres have games in hand on the Red Wings too, which means that they could also pass Detroit. Go based off of P%, and Detroit’s .487% knocks them down to 27th. Certainly not a good sign for the team.
Also, 33 of their remaining 44 games (75%) are against teams either in a playoff spot right now, or in playoff contention, so they’ll certainly be in tough competing against teams who are, as of right now, better than them.
Now, if there’s any good news, it’s that the Wings would have to be astronomically bad to fall below Arizona or Colorado, so they seem to be safe from finishing dead last. Even the numbers support this, as Detroit’s 47.94% 5v5 CF%, which is 8th worst in the league, is not even close to either Arizona’s 44.72% or Colorado’s 44.62%. Likewise, Detroit’s 47.86% 5v5 xGF% is nowhere near Colorado’s 41.6% or Arizona’s 41.48%.
Also, the Wings are going to be in tough to “compete” once both teams start to sell off. Already, Arizona has rumours that they’re shopping Martin Hanzal, and Colorado recently was talking with Boston about Gabriel Landeskog, not to mention they’re shopping Matt Duchene as well. So, unless Detroit plans on selling at the deadline, they probably won’t be in contention for last.
Now, if Detroit has one thing going for them in the tank wars, it’s their injuries. They have seven players out with some sort of ailment. Darren Helm has been out since Nov. 15, and Justin Abdelkader has been out since Dec. 1. Also add Alexei Marchenko, who’s just starting to get back; Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, as well as Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith, who got hurt last night.
The Wings have just seven players who have played all 38 games this season. They have the most man games lost this season. So, there’s two ways to go about this. You could look at all the injuries and say that this team could be better. You could also say that if they continue to lose games to injuries, it could make the team bad enough that they’ll drop below Colorado and Arizona.
So, could the Wings finish last? It’s a possibility for sure, but they’re competing against a couple of bad teams in the West (Colorado and Arizona). Also, they have been a heavily injured team, so while the Wings are bad, the Wings aren’t as bad as they appear right now. With a full, healthy team deployed properly, the Wings are probably in the playoff hunt. So, they could finish last, but they probably won’t.
(Note: all stats and standings as of Jan. 6)