Fans Believe Detroit Red Wings Will Make the Postseason, but Do Players?

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IMarch 5, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Brett Lebda #22 of the Detroit Red Wings wipes his face at the end of play against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at the Honda Center on February 3, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

There's optimism, and then, there's blind optimism.

The former is often a helpful thing.  When you think positively, positive things often happen.

However, the latter is often a hurtful thing, when you expect only positive things to happen, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

At this point, it is a little unclear as to which of these is responsible for the belief that the Red Wings will make the playoffs this season.

With 70 points and just 19 games remaining, it is estimated that the Wings will need to accrue somewhere between 24 and 28 points in that span in order to secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

If that estimate is correct, that's a minimum of 12 wins in 19 games.

Now, a couple overtime losses could be sustained (and likely will be as the Wings lead the league in that department with 12) that could still add to their point total and thus, perhaps reduce their needed wins to 11.

But, considering that eight of those next 19 games are against opponents who themselves may be battling for the eighth and final spot (Calgary, Nashville, Minnesota, and St. Louis) turning these matchups into three point games could prove fatal to the Wings' playoff hopes.

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The margin for error is razor thin, and though they still cling to the eighth seed, there's too many teams within striking distance to think that anything short of a monumental turnaround to their season is going to allow them to hang on to it.

As they have far too many times this season, the Wings followed up a great game against Colorado on Monday with a terrible game against Vancouver on Wednesday.

Even the morning after the 6-3 loss, head coach Mike Babcock was still fuming over an effort he described as "un-Red Wing like" and "discouraging," adding that the team's play against Vancouver didn't give him "much sign of hope [for the playoffs]."

Still, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom expressed his confidence in the Red Wings' chances at making the postseason, suggesting that the team itself may not be all that concerned about their poor showing on Wednesday.

If they're not, they should be.

The things that cost them win number 30 on the season on Wednesday night are the exact same things that cost them a win in game one: shoddy goal-tending and poor defensive play.

While both have been better at times this year, neither have been better long enough for the Wings to win more than three games in a row.

Babcock's frustration and Lidstrom's optimism may suggest that the team's psyche as a whole is in a state of flux.

Some may still believe they'll see playoff hockey in April, others may slowly be accepting the fact that the odds are stacked significantly against them.

Now, for the most part, fans are quite optimistic about the Wings' extending their playoff streak to 19 years.

Blogs and discussion boards are littered each day with breakdowns of the Wings' possible record the rest of the season that could mathematically get them into the playoffs.

"We have the eighth spot all ready, all we have to do is make sure we stay in."

Such sentiments are common among fans but ignore the fact that there's a few teams just below them that may not plan on losing every game the Red Wings win to ensure their spot remains safe.

Look, the Wings have what it takes to make the playoffs.

They have a healthy team, tons of experience and enough talent to make a serious push.

But, they had this to start the season too.

Recall that the Wings' 0-2 start was their worst in 20 years and was suffered by a complete and healthy line-up.

Poor health was certainly a contributing factor to the Wings' record to date, but good health is just not going to be enough to improve it in time to make the playoffs.

The sloppy play, inconsistent goal-tending and limited offensive production that has lead to the majority of the 34 losses they've suffered this year has become a systemic thing, occurring no matter who is in or out of the line-up.

This was just the kind of game the Wings' played Wednesday against Vancouver.

Mike Babcock calls this "un-Red Wing-like."

Unfortunately, for the 2009-10 team, it is very "Red Wing-like."

It will remain to be seen if the optimism expressed by Nick Lidstrom and the majority of Red Wings fans is vision impaired or not.

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