What seed best suits the Red Wings playoff chances?
With a week left in the NHL season, both conferences have some interesting races for playoff seeding. The Red Wings find themselves currently in 5th place. They have four games in the next seven days and move as high as four and as low as the 6th seed. Below are the standings as of noon today:
|1||y – Vancouver||79||49||21||9||107||42||7||7||25-10-4||24-11-5||239||191||+48||7-2-1||Won 6|
|2||y – St. Louis||79||48||21||10||106||44||4||9||30-5-4||18-16-6||204||156||+48||4-3-3||Lost 2|
|3||Los Angeles||79||39||27||13||91||33||6||8||21-14-4||18-13-9||185||170||+15||7-2-1||Lost 1|
|4||x – Nashville||79||45||26||8||98||41||4||5||24-10-5||21-16-3||227||208||+19||4-5-1||Lost 1|
|5||x – Detroit||78||46||27||5||97||39||7||2||30-6-2||16-21-3||240||195||+45||2-6-2||Lost 2|
|6||x – Chicago||79||44||26||9||97||38||6||5||27-8-5||17-18-4||240||229||+11||7-1-2||Won 2|
|8||San Jose||79||40||29||10||90||32||8||5||25-12-3||15-17-7||214||201||+13||6-4-0||Won 1|
x – cliched playoffs, y – cliched division, courtesy of ESPN.com
The question now becomes, what seed best suits the Red Wings title hopes? A simple answer is the 4th seed, and guaranteed home ice in the first round against either of their Central Division rivals – Chicago Blackhawks or Nashville Predators. A 4th or 5th seed would also eliminate to possibility of a West Coast first round trip, which many believe hurt the club in the 2010 postseason (The Wings won in Phoenix in 7 games, only to lose to San Jose in game 5.
However, the sixth seed would ensure a matchup with the winner of the weaker Pacific Division champion, which today has four teams separated by two points with all teams having three games to position themselves. As of today, Los Angeles leads, but based on schedule alone Phoenix is sitting pretty. It may come down to San Jose, whose final three games are @DAL, @LA, vs LA.
All that being said, I would think you would want to avoid Nashville at all costs. They are getting plenty of production from KHL pickup Alexander Radulov, plenty of talent on the blue line and perhaps the leagues best keep in Pekka Rinne. Nashville made better additions than any club at the deadline, knowing that this could be the last year with the current core of talent as both D men Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are free agents this year. Nashville has been ousted from the playoffs by the Western Conference champion in three of the past four years, and each of those series went six games.
A drop to sixth place would all but ensure a second round date with either St. Louis or Vancouver, while a fourth or fifth seed could produce a more favorable matchup depending on upsets. I find myself torn, but the one thing I think we can all agree on, is a few wins heading into the postseason would be big in terms of confidence.
So I’ll leave it to you:
Should be a fun one against the Panthers today, who are clinging to their Southeastern Division lead. 4pm at the Joe.