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The Red Wings’ conference race the rest of the way

Bertuzzi is excited for the extravaganza, even if Salo knows his team has an easier final regular season run

The Red Wings are down to the 25-game mark. The number 25 is special. It’s nice and round and fun to say. Most importantly, any time it’s involved as a measure of time in some form you must put on a celebration. Twenty-fifth anniversaries for companies are star-studded affairs. Advent calendars countdown the 25 days of Christmas. Apparently (I just looked this up) a 25th marriage anniversary means spouses try to drench the other in as much silver as possible.

So it just wouldn’t be right to let the Red Wings 25-games-to-go-in-the-regular-season event go by unnoticed. Good thing the Hustle is here to save in the day. In a one post extravaganza, we’re breaking down the Red Wings’ opponents in their 25 games final stretch.

The Red Wings play 17 different teams in the final 25 games. Ten are from the Western Conference. They play Columbus, Nashville and Chicago three times and San Jose and Los Angeles twice. Nothing extravagant there. The knowledge bombs are coming, just wait (but maybe not). That’s what we like to call a teaser.

The remaining teams are a combined 692-528-171 if you count the teams Detroit plays more than once, well, more than once. That averages out to about a 28-20-7 record so far this season, which would give this mythical team of averages 63 points, good enough for 8th in both conferences.

Why do you care? Because using the transitive property we can deduce that the Red Wings remaining schedule is extremely average. Ok, it might not be the transitive property. It’s been a few years since high-school math. But the point remains, you couldn’t get any more of an average schedule than the Red Wings have.

Detroit plays each team within their division three times, except for St. Louis. It plays Vancouver once. The Red Wings won’t have much of a chance to settle anything with their two main competitors for the conference crown.

Yes, there’s really only two. If you haven’t noticed the Chicago is winless in its last eight games, Nashville is still Nashville and San Jose is only good enough to win their crappy division.

We need to extend the Red Wings 25-games-left extravaganza to St. Louis and Vancouver. Unfortunately, the Blues and Canucks haven’t reached their 25-games-left extravaganza point yet. St. Louis has 27 left while Vancouver has 26, but we’ll blow it out anyway. (EDIT: The Canucks actually played a late-night game against Phoenix which I semi-accounted for but didn’t update Phoenix’s or Vancouver’s records. If the records are off a bit that’s the reason why. It shouldn’t make a difference in the averages anyway.)

St. Louis plays 18 different teams in its final run and has a massive 22 games against Western Conference teams. Together their opponents are a combined 701-622-180. That averages out to a 26-23-7 record, or 59 points. The Blues’ mythical team of averages wouldn’t make the playoffs.

Vancouver is almost exactly the same. It also plays 18 different teams in its last 26 games and also has 22 games against Western Conference teams. The Canucks’ opponents’ combined record is a measly 674-577-145. Mythical average team: 26-22-6. 58 points.

Among contenders, there are just three points between the easiest and the toughest schedules the rest of the way. With most of the league just kind of loitering around the middle like some skateboarding teenagers, the small difference means even less. But there is a difference.

The Red Wings  basically play a team on the good side of the playoff bubble the rest of the way. The Canucks and Blues play a team on the other side. To put it into context, the Red Wings’ mythical team’s doppleganger: Phoenix. St Louis': Dallas. Vancouver’s: Minnesota. If you had a choice, what is the one team you wouldn’t like to play? Probably Phoenix. The one who has good goaltending, some scorers, and is on a hot streak.

Wow, that ended in a downer. This might have been the worst 25-games-left-in-the-regular-season extravaganza ever.

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