DETROIT – If the Detroit Red Wings have any final hopes of making a push for the playoffs this year, then Friday night's game against the New York Islanders is a must-win.
And it can't be an overtime or shootout win. It has to be a win in regulation. The Islanders are knocking on the door to the Wild Card spot with 58 points (55 games played) while the Red Wings have 50 points (52 games played).
- Previous matchup: Dec. 19 in New York -- Islanders 6, Red Wings 3
Here's a look at the race for the Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference:
- IN: Philadelphia Flyers -- 61 points, 54 games played
- IN: Columbus Blue Jackets -- 58 points, 53 games played
- New York Islanders -- 58 points, 55 games played
- Carolina Hurricanes -- 57 points, 54 games played
- New York Rangers -- 55 points, 54 games played
- Florida Panthers -- 52 points, 51 games played
- Detroit Red Wings -- 50 points, 52 games played
- Montreal Canadiens -- 50 points, 54 games played
The Red Wings' 3-2 loss on Saturday at Florida (that one where Petr Mrazek thought he was interfered with during the game-winning goal in the final seconds of regulation) is looking more and more devastating. And the 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers on Jan. 23 also hurts pretty bad.
The word around the league is Detroit should be selling before the trade deadline later this month. However, some would argue this team is just a three-game winning streak away from making a Cinderella-story push for the post season, and who doesn't like Cinderella stories?
If the Red Wings lose Friday night, forget it. The season likely is all but over and selling, selling, selling will be the story.
After the Panthers, Detroit has to run the gauntlet:
- Sunday @ Washington
- Tuesday vs. Anaheim
- Thursday @ Tampa
- Saturday @ Nashville
- Sunday vs. Toronto