(So I’m a day late. Deal with it.)
Let’s tackle a simple question. Who would the Red Wings rather play in the first round of the playoffs? All stats after completion of games on 3/22.
85 points, 73-40-28-5 record.
Goal differential: -2.
Regular season series: 4-0, Detroit, although one win came through the shootout.
Team makeup:Top-10 goaltending from their starter, who has never been seen as a franchise goaltender and has two games of postseason experience. A below average offense, with one high-level point producer and one other pretty good one. A slightly above average to average defense.
92 points, 42-23-8 record.
Goal differential: +17
Regular season series: 3-2, Detroit.
Team makeup: Top-10 goaltending from the starter, who is coming into his own as a franchise goaltender with 18 games played in the post season. A high-level offense (top-10 in goals for in the league), but it doesn’t have a single prime time scorer. An slightly above average to average defense.
I don’t care how deeply you want to examine this to prove that I’m biased. You want to play Team A.
Team A is the third-place Dallas Stars. Team B is the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
So why do people care that the Red Wings have lost six straight?
If I’m Ken Holland and Mike Babcock I’m trying to avoid the Kostitsyn, Gill and Gaustad-ed up Predators if I can. I’m also making sure I don’t rush anybody back from injuries to ensure they are healthy for the playoffs.
Right now, it’s the best of both worlds.
The same flawed system that caused the NBA to change its playoff seeding rules* is making it so the Red Wings have no upside to winning games. They aren’t going to catch St. Louis. Every point Detroit gains just further entrenches them in a match up against Nashville. Every loss puts them in a better position to play a team they owned in the regular season.
The Predators are a Stanley Cup contender (until someone tells them they’re still the Nashville Predators). The Stars are, at most, a second round and done team.
As the season winds down, Red Wings fans must make a choice.
Cheer for your team because that’s what fans do and you have some sort of self-righteous idea that you should never root against your team. It’s bad karma and the team will be punished (even though the same powers at be have done about the team’s and fans’ drinking, smoking and excessive use of profanity the entire season.)**
OR, we can turn the last eight games into the reverse of some sort of semi-entertaining, slapstick sports movie. Sixth place! SIXTH PLACE!
Considering you’re not a crazy person that believes in some sort of magical power which sees bad actions, translates them into poor play for the athletes hundreds of miles away and causes pain in thousands of fans just because one person made a decision to, for a short period of time, stop rooting for a team he only roots for because he was born in the same general vicinity as the team’s home stadium which makes no sense at all when you really think about it but that’s just the way sports is, you know which side you’re supposed to be on.
Let Lidstrom rest! Let Jordan Pearce play! Keep Gustav Nyquist on the first line!
It’s going to be more fun AND better for the club. If you’re not with bandwagon, you’ll wish you were come playoff time.
*(They basically said a division winner is guaranteed a top-four seed instead of being guaranteed a top-three seed.)
**(But seriously, clean up your mouth. You’re like a f#$%ing sailor out there.)