For the Detroit Red Wings it’s simple tonight, get at least one point in Dallas and they’ll earn a spot in the playoffs for a 22nd consecutive season.
“So far so good,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said after Thursday’s 5-2 win over Nashville that moved them in the seventh seed. “We got one more big one to go. We put ourselves in a good situation. Hopefully, we can take care of business on Saturday.”
Not only are the Wings (54 points) in control of just reaching playoffs they also hold the cards to be the seventh seed.
A win over Dallas secures the seventh seed for Detroit and a first-round date against Anaheim.
Minnesota, who plays at Colorado, and Columbus, which hosts Nashville, are the other two teams vying for the final two spots in the Western Conference.
Detroit is in the playoffs by earning a last a point against Dallas.
The Wings are also in if they lose in regulation as long as Minnesota (53 points) loses in regulation or Columbus (53 points) loses either in regulation, overtime or a shootout.
The only way the Wings don’t reach the postseason is if they lose in regulation and Minnesota and Colorado both earn two points.
“You need to win to know we stay in the game,” forward Valtteri Filppula said. “I think we’re just trying to focus on our own game.”
If Detroit loses and both Minnesota and Columbus each earn just one point, the Wings and Wild are in because they hold tiebreakers over the Blue Jackets.
The Wild are in if they get two points against the Avalanche. They’re also in if Columbus doesn’t pick up more points than they do.
Columbus has a bit of a tougher road because of the first tiebreaker (regulation and overtime wins). The Blue Jackets have just 18, while Detroit and Minnesota each have 21.
Columbus clinches a spot with a win over Nashville and either a Detroit loss in regulation or a Wild loss in regulation, overtime or a shootout.
Detroit and Columbus both start at 7 p.m., while Minnesota drops the puck 30 minutes after.
“The first step is to get into the playoffs, but if we get in we feel we have a great team,” forward Gustav Nyquist. “(Jimmy Howard) is playing unbelievable. The veterans are carrying us right now. That’s what we need. So we like our team and hopefully we’ll get into the playoffs.”
The longest active NHL playoff streaks:
(Including this season)
x-1. Detroit (21 seasons)
2. San Jose (9 seasons)
3. Pittsburgh (7 seasons)
4. Boston (6 seasons)
4. Washington (6 seasons)
x-With chance to extend it.
The longest NHL playoff streaks of all-time:
1. Boston (29 seasons from 1967-68 to 1995-96)
2. Chicago (28 seasons from 1969-70 to 1996-97)
3. St. Louis (25 seasons from 1979-80 to 2003-04)
4. Montreal (24 seasons from 1970-71 to 1993-94)
5. Detroit (21 seasons from 1990-91 to current)
5. Montreal (21 seasons from 1948-49 to 1968-69)
The longest current playoff streaks in the other major sports:
NBA: San Antonio Spurs (16 seasons)
NFL: Baltimore Ravens (5 seasons)
MLB: New York Yankees (4 seasons)