Ada HS 1978 girls state basketball team and Stretch Roberson inducted into Hardin County Sports Hall on Saturday. Click for details.
By Mitchell Gatzke
The Detroit Red Wings are preparing for the National Hockey League playoffs for the 21 consecutive season, by far the longest current streak in the league. Before they embark on their journey to the Stanley Cup Finals though, they have three more regular season games left to play.
Detroit has 99 points this year and are ahead of the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks by just one point in the Western Conference standings. Nashville has three games left against the Minnesota Wild, the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalance, all of whom are out of the playoffs. Chicago has just two games left and also play the Wild, they also face the Wings in the season finale. Meanwhile, those wearing the winged wheel have to face off against three playoff teams.
The next game for the Wings is on Wednesday night in St. Louis, where they face Central Division rivals, the Blues. The Blues currently have 106 points on the season, good for third in the NHL and lead the league in shutouts with 15.
The next night the Wings are at home for a game against the New Jersey Devils who play in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have earned themselves 96 points so far in the 2011-12 campaign which puts them in sixth place in the East.
The Chicago Blackhawks come to the Joe on Saturday to skate with the Wings in the season finale. This game has become a heated rivalry between these two teams over the past few years and for good reason. The two teams have come across each other frequently in the playoffs and meet routinely during the regular season because they are in the same division.
The final three games will not be easy ones for the Red Wings but they are the most important of the season. The Wings currently sit in fourth in the standings, meaning they will have home ice advantage over their first round opponents who will whichever team finishes in fifth place.
In hockey, possibly more than any other sport, home field (or ice in this case) advantage is key. Nashville and Chicago are both decidedly better on their own ice. Nashville is 24-10-5 at home and 21-16-3 on the road. Chicago is an impressive 27-8-6 in their building but are just 17-18-4 away from home. Detroit has a league best 31 home wins this year, including a 23 game home winning streak at Joe Louis Arena.
This means that each team will be much better off playing at home more times than not, making the jockeying for position in the final standings something to watch as the NHL season finishes up this week.
Go to http://redwings.nhl.com/ for more details on the Wings schedule, conference standings, player statistics and much more.