This is it.
81-games completed. 1 to go.
There isn't much else to decide this season other than the Red Wings opponent in the 1st round of the playoffs. The outcome of this game will determine just that.
If Chicago defeats Detroit on Sunday (in regulation or overtime), the Red Wings will play Nashville. If the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks (regulation, overtime or a shootout), Detroit will face Phoenix.
If Chicago beats Detroit in a shootout, that will create a three-way tie between the Blackhawks, Predators and Coyotes for the fifth, sixth and seventh seeds (each club would have 99 points and 38 regulation/OT wins). Their standing would be determined by tiebreakers.
So unless this thing goes to a shootout it's pretty simple.
Win = Phoenix
Loss = Nashville
If it goes to a shootout and the Wings lose, well then all hell breaks lose with a three way tie between Chicago, Nashville, and Phoenix. Each team will have 99 points and 38 regulation/overtime wins.
Here's what the rulebook says about that:
If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.
Puck drop is at 12:30p ET on NBC.
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More after the jump.
The Expected Lineup
Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Tomas Holmstrom
Danny Cleary -- Justin Abdelkader -- Todd Bertuzzi
Mike Modano -- Valtteri Filppula -- Jiri Hudler
Kris Draper / Drew Miller -- Darren Helm -- Patrick Eaves
Nicklas Lidstrom -- Brad Stuart
Brian Rafalski -- Jonathan Ericsson
Ruslan Salei -- Jakub Kindl
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Scratches: Miller or Draper
Injuries: Henrik Zetterberg (lower body injury), Niklas Kronwall (upper body injury)
LTIR: Chris Osgood (groin)
We'll see the standard lineup we've seen lately. Hank and Kronwall are still out. Cleary didn't practice Saturday due to illness, but will play today. As usual, Miller or Draper will be scratched. I expect Miller to sit.
|DET||HOW THEY MATCH UP||CHI|
|3.1 (2nd)||GOALS PER GAME||3.1 (3rd)|
|2.9 (23rd)||GOALS AGAINST PER GAME||2.7 (12th)|
|22.3% (5th)||POWER PLAY %||23.4% (2nd)|
|82.2% (17th)||PENALTY KILL %||79.2 (24th)|
|Johan Franzen (28 goals)||GOAL LEADER||Patrick Sharp (34 goals)|
|Henrik Zetterberg (80 points)||POINTS LEADER||Jonathan Toews (76 points)|
So unless the Wings lose in a shootout, it's a rematch with the Coyotes or a divisional showdown with the Predators. Either way, the Wings will face a team that is middle of the pack when it comes to scoring goals, but has a goaltender that can steal a game or two (Pekka Rinne and Ilya Bryzgalov). It won't be an easy series either way. Don't ask me who I'd rather play. I'll take whichever team the Hockey Gods throw at us and just hope that the Wings can get their acts together come the end of the week.
Prediction: Chicago wins 3-1. It will be a close game and the Wings will play well. The Hawks will add an empty netter to seal the win and their playoff spot. I hate the fact I'm picking against the Wings, but I see a desperate Chicago team that wants into the postseason party.