With their shootout win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night, the Wings are now tied with the Philadelphia Flyers in points for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Division. However, since the Flyers currently have more wins this year, if the playoffs began tomorrow, Detroit would be on the earliest vacation they have taken in 24 years.
Thankfully for Hockey-Town players and fans, the official road to the Cup is still a few weeks away, and desperation finally seems to be kicking in for the Red Wings.
Although at this point Edmonton really only has a shot at playing spoiler in a playoff bound team’s season, the Oilers are not a group to be underestimated, as they have proven to play outright lethal this year when capable of going a full 60 minutes. That kind of game is what the Oilers brought to Detroit on Friday night when a late 3rd period goal by Ryan Smyth tied the teams 1-1 and pushed the decision into overtime.
But while the Oilers have whatever pride is left on their season to still fight for, the Red Wings have something far deeper at stake. Hockey legacies are not those to be let go of easily, especially in a town with so many political burdens, the nights and weekends full of ice time seem to be the only thing left to cheer for in Detroit these days. A playoff-less season could send what was once the best structured organization in the NHL reeling.
A shootout goal from Tomas Tatar was all the red and white would need to bring the home crowd to their feet for a Friday night win, a win desperately fought for. But a fight is nothing the Red Wings can’t handle. After all, you don’t win 11 Stanley Cups without a little bit of it still left.