Allstate Journal

Angst developing over Red Wings’ playoff run

The accepted view around the NHL is the Detroit Red Wings are heading to the NHL playoffs for the 24th consecutive season. But the Ottawa Senators could alter that perception if they beat Detroit in regulation tonight at Joe Louis Arena. If that occurs, the Red Wings’ grip on a playoff spot only becomes four points with six games remaining.

There might be panic in the Motor City if that happens because the Red Wings are struggling mightily. The Red Wings are 4-8-1 in their past 13 games, and haven’t played like a team that has made the playoffs since George Herbert Walker Bush was president of the United States. If the Red Wings lose to Ottawa in regulation, it will feel in Detroit as if the playoffs are in doubt. The Red WDetroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek will start again tonight. (Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports)ings have a challenging schedule down the stretch.

Slumping goaltending and leaky defense have caused the Red Wings’ issues down the stretch. Petr Mrazek, pulled in his last start, will get the start again tonight. Jimmy Howard has struggled since returning from a groin muscle injury. The Senators have lost three games in a row but before that, they had won their previous seven. Goalie Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond, who started his career 14-0-1, will start tonight after sitting out or backing up the last two games because of an injury.

The Eastern Conference playoff picture could become clearer, or murkier still, after tonight’s games. The Boston Bruins are also playing the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are in close to a must-win situation: If they lose in regulation, they would be six points back with five games to play. But if the Panthers win in regulation, they’d be two points back of Boston.