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The third grader’s guide to the Detroit Red Wings playoff scenarios

Will this guy get to where his jersey this year? (Maia C)

Will this guy get to where his jersey this year? (Maia C)

Welcome, class! I see you guys haven’t been here for a while. I’ll remember to take it slow.

See, your Red Wings have reached the final three games of the season and still sit outside of the playoff picture. You’re currently experiencing what all the little kids in Calgary and Los Angeles and Buffalo experience on a nearly yearly basis. Figuring out all the different scenarios in which the Red Wings can make or miss the playoffs can be a really difficult experience — especially with Dallas and Columbus meeting on Thursday and the Red Wings and the Stars getting together on Saturday.

I wanted to help all you smart little boys and girls out. I’ve already figured out the different scenarios and thought we could work through them together as a class. Does that sound good? Clap three times if you heard me.

First, we must get familiar with the tiebreakers. This is a paraphrase of what is listed at NHL.com. 

  1. The number of games won, excluding shootouts.
  2. Points earned in head-to-head games. If the tied have played an unequal amount of home games, points earned in the first game played in the city with the extra game is excluded. If more than two teams are tied, the same format is used, throwing out any “‘odd’ games.” (That’s their phrasing, not mine.)
  3. Goal differential, with a victory in a shootout counting as one goal for and a loss counting as one goal against.

Here your regulation and shootout wins after Tuesdays games. Don’t lose these, you’ll need to use them later.

  • Dallas: 21
  • Minnesota: 21
  • Detroit: 19
  • Columbus: 17

OK, everybody ready? Let’s start to answer the question. Please remember to show your work.

How can the Red Wings make the playoffs?

Let’s start by eliminating all the scenarios where they absolutely CANNOT do so.

If the Red Wings lose all three games in regulation, they’re out.

If they lose one game (it doesn’t matter which one) in overtime and lose the other two in regulation they’re out.

If they beat either Los Angeles or Nashville but lose the other two games they’re out. Who can tell me why? That’s right. Columbus would either have more points or Dallas, since we’re assuming they beat the Red Wings in regulation, would have the tiebreaker over Detroit and Columbus should the teams be tied for the final playoff spot.

If Detroit loses any two games in overtime and then drops the other, they’re out, due to the same situation.

Now comes the hard part. All the other scenarios have a number different of outcomes for the Red Wings. Go through each one slowly, remembering to double check your work:

Loss to Los Angeles, loss to Nashville, win over Dallas. 

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Dallas and Nashville both beat Columbus, giving Detroit a one point edge on the Blue Jackets.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings miss the playoffs. Columbus wins one of it’s final two games.

 

Loss to either Los Angeles or Nashville in overtime, win over Dallas  OR losses in overtime to all three teams 

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Columbus loses at least one of it’s two remaining games. Minnesota could lose it’s final two and fall into a possible tie with Detroit and/or Columbus, but it would still hold the tiebreaker.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings miss the playoffs. Columbus wins it’s final two games.

 

One win against any of the three teams plus an overtime loss to any of the others

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. It’s basically the same situation as above. Detroit earning that extra loser’s point eliminates Dallas from contention.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings miss the playoffs. Columbus wins it’s final two games.

 

Two wins and one loss in any order OR one win and two overtime losses in any order

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Minnesota loses its final two games and Columbus loses one.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings miss the playoffs. Columbus wins it’s final two games and Minnesota wins one.

 

Two wins and one loss in overtime in any order

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Minnesota loses it’s final two games.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Minnesota wins at least one game. Columbus becomes a non-factor because the Red Wings hold the tiebreaker.

 

Three wins

Best case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Detroit could catch St. Louis in points for the sixth spot and both would have the same number of regulation and overtime wins if the Red Wings don’t go to a shootout in the final three games, but St. Louis would hold tiebreaker No. 2, six points to three.

Worst case scenario: The Red Wings make the playoffs as the No. 8 seed. Minnesota wins it’s final two games.

Of the 27 scenarios facing the Red Wings, four (14.8 percent) guarantee them a berth in the playoffs. Eighteen (66.7 percent) leave the possibility for the  Red Wings to make the playoffs.

It comes down to this: earning three out of the final six points eliminates the Stars. Five out of six points gets the Red Wings in. Six has them in, no tiebreakers required.

Class dismissed. Run along. You don’t want leave your mothers waiting.

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2 comments on “The third grader’s guide to the Detroit Red Wings playoff scenarios

  1. Good thing this is for third graders – the spelling is probably at about their level. For example, you use “loss” when you mean “lose” several times in a row, and mix up “there”, “their”, and “they’re”.

    • I deserved that. That’s what I get for waiting until the Dallas game completely finished last night before even starting this. Read it over this morning but apparently not close enough. Fixes have been made. Thanks for the heads up.

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