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In Detroit, we're not used to this

Wednesday, 02.10.2010 / 10:08 AM ET / Features
By Paul Kukla
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In Detroit, we\'re not used to this
The Red Wings barely are hanging on in the playoff race in the Western Conference. Sitting in the eighth position, the Wings are only four points out of the sixth seed, but are only five points ahead of the 13th seed.

All of this is highly unusual for a Wings fan.

What is going on?

I will be the first to say the Red Wings have had it fairly easy the past 18 or so years. The regular-season was looked upon by Wings' fans as a tune-up for the playoffs. Now, our team is fighting to just make the playoffs.

Yes, this is all new to us and quite frankly, very hard on the nerves. This time of year we are normally observing other teams, either to watch their style of play in case we were to meet up in the playoffs or to pick out a player we felt the Wings could trade for to help them in the playoffs.

Instead, Wings' fans now are watching other games, hoping a team ahead of them in the standings loses a game in regulation, thereby not receiving any points in the standings. Now, every point counts.

Instead of hearing, "Let's get the season over with, we are ready for the playoffs to start," we now hear, "This game is a must-win, we can't afford to lose ground in the playoff race."

All this is new to fans of the winged-wheel, and maybe an eye-opening experience, too. Instead of reading about how other fan bases have struggled with their team's performance, Wings' fans now are experiencing it first-hand.

When early April rolls around, I fully expect Detroit to be in the playoff picture, but when the season started I didn't foresee the Wings being in the position they are in at this moment. So I can't say with 100 percent certainty the Wings once again will be playing in the second season.

The Wings used to be able to control their own destiny in the regular-season, but now other factors are tossed in. Will a few teams go on an extended winning streak, making it much more difficult for the Wings to earn a playoff position? Will the Wings ever get over the hump themselves, get out of the pattern of win, lose, then lose in overtime and start the pattern all over again?

Without a doubt, this has been the most stressful regular season for a Wings' fan in recent memory. I go way back, so I have experienced both the good and bad years, but just imagine the younger fans -- they don't know what it is like to be in a playoff race, let alone not making the playoffs.

When I am asked if the Red Wings will make the playoffs, my response is "Believe in Nick." You see, Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom never has missed the playoffs in his NHL career. We only can hope his streak continues for at least one more season.

Now it is time for me to go and plan my hockey viewing schedule for the next two weeks. Calgary plays ... Nashville plays ... Colorado plays ... oh boy, a lot of nerve-racking nights ahead.

As always, feel free to e-mail me at pk@kuklaskorner.com, follow me on Twitter or visit Kukla's Korner for the latest hockey talk.




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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89