Last year, an eighth-place Ducks team loaded with talent from Pronger to Getzlaf to Hiller knocked the San Jose Sharks out of the first round 4-2. This year, the Detroit Red Wings could play a similar spoiler role as a team with way too much talent to be in the conference’s final playoff spot.
Now, there’s still plenty of time for a variety of things to happen. It is possible that even though the Red Wings widened their lead over Calgary last night, the Flames could still conceivably overtake Detroit for the last spot. On the other hand, the Red Wings are only one point behind Nashville, four points behind Colorado and five points behind the Los Angeles Kings. The team could absolutely be in a different spot after they get through the last 13 games of their season.
But if things hold true and the Red Wings stay in the eighth spot, the Sharks or Blackhawks may in fact be wise to let the Conference’s top spot “slip away.”
Sure, the Red Wings have struggled at times this season and may indeed have lost a few miles per hour on their fastball that they’ll never get back. That being said, this team still has Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Both Jimmy Howard and “Mr. Playoff Light Switch” Chris Osgood could give the team some good goaltending in the playoffs. In other words, there are still plenty of the elements that made them the elite team in this league.
You have to think that the Red Wings would relish the role of being the “underdog” after many seasons of being a top-3 seed. Could it be that for the second year in a row, winning the Western Conference’s top spot could really be like stumbling on a dangerous booby trap?