The Detroit Red Wings will reach the halfway point of their season this week. And while the Wings have rejoined the playoff picture by picking up seven points in their past five games, there remains very little separation between the top eight (except for the record-setting Chicago Blackhawks) and those trying to join the party.
As of the close of Sunday’s action, here’s how the playoff matchups would stack up in the Western Conference:
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 8 Detroit Red Wings
No. 2 Anaheim Ducks vs. No. 7 Dallas Stars
No. 3 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 6 Minnesota Wild
No. 4 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 5 St. Louis Blues
Those fourth- through eighth-place teams all sit on 24 points — Detroit and Dallas have played 22 games, Minnesota and St. Louis have played 21, and San Jose 20. The Coyotes (21 games) and Predators (22) are just a point back, with the Kings (19 games) two behind.
A look at the Wings’ schedule for the upcoming week:
Tuesday, March 5 vs. Colorado: The Avalanche, with Ryan O’Reilly finally back in tow, lost in OT to the Blue Jackets on Sunday. They currently sit at 20 points, four back of the Wings, though they have two games in hand.
Thursday, March 7 vs. Edmonton: The Oilers also stand at 20 points, having played 21 games thus far. They dropped a 4-2 decision at Minnesota on Sunday evening.
Saturday, March 9 at Columbus; Sunday, March 10 vs. Columbus: A home-and-home for the Wings with the Blue Jackets, who stole two points in Detroit last weekend. Despite that and Sunday’s win over Colorado, the Blue Jackets are in last place in the West at 16 points.