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Pundits have been calling for the end of the Winged Wheel since the salary-cap era began back in 2005. Since then, the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs in every season, won a Stanley Cup and made the Cup Final one other time.
History doesn't matter much when there are games to be played, however, and new captain Henrik Zetterberg and the rest of the Red Wings find themselves in a peculiar position in the final week of play: on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
Seriously, when was the last time Detroit wasn't firmly in a playoff spot with only a handful of games remaining? There have been some midseason scares—and Wings fans have undoubtedly been wrestling with the notion that if the 2013 season was 82 games long, they might not be caught in this current predicament—but the fact of the matter is that this is unfamiliar territory for the model franchise.
The Wings did themselves a huge favor by shutting out the Phoenix Coyotes last night and effectively maintained their game-in-hand edge on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Detroit still has some work to do, with games remaining against the L.A. Kings (those guys again? Do they play every night this week?), Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars.
Clear your calender for the Stars game on Saturday—the contest could be a win-and-in, lose-and-go-home contest for Detroit.
The feeling is that this veteran group of players finds a way to get it done and squeaks into the playoffs, keeping the streak alive by a hair.