Take a look at this:
Here's how the conference should finish:
1) VAN (face EDM tonight and only need 1pt to lock up conference)
2) STL (face DAL tonight and need win + VAN regulation loss to take 1-seed)
(With the pacific teams of course being PHX, SJS, and LAK.)
It's possible for DET to only face Central Division teams in the playoffs (assuming that VAN takes the 1-seed which seems very likely - although watch them choke now that I said it, heh). Here's how:
VAN, STL, CHI put Pacific Division out of its misery and DET beats NSH
CHI beats VAN (in an intense, fun to watch series with the hatred they have for each other) and DET beats STL
CHI vs DET
This could possibly be the best outcome for the playoffs, since it would require very little travel compared to recent years. Maybe the Central teams would be harder to beat than some of the others, but they'd be intense (i.e. fun) series due to the division rivalries and would create nearly the best travel schedule that the Wings could ever hope for. (Think, no late night playoff games!) In the regular season (whether it matters or not) the Wings went 3-3-0 against NSH, 4-2-0 against STL, and 2-3-1 against CHI. Their biggest concern of those 3 would be CHI (who for some reason has caused them major problems this season), but that match-up would occur after CHI battled VAN. I have a feeling that series would take a lot out of CHI which could null the advantage they seem to have (not that DET's path wouldn't be tough and physical as well).
So, maybe ending up in 5th could be the best that we could have hoped for (other than 4th and home-ice, I suppose). Your thoughts?