NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (44-26-11) at Detroit Red Wings (48-28-5), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Blackhawks and Red Wings both know they will be in the playoffs. Who they will be playing is still very much in the air.
Chicago and Detroit get together this afternoon in a game that will go a long way towards deciding the seeding for the Western Conference.
A loss to the Devils on Thursday dropped the Red Wings into the West's fifth seed with 101 points, one behind the Predators. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, earned a point with their shootout setback to the Wild, giving them 99 points and a firm hold of the conference's sixth spot.
A regulation win today by Chicago would match Detroit's point total and the latter club's 39 non-shootout wins, the first tiebreaker. The Blackhawks, though, are 3-0-2 versus the Red Wings this season, securing them the season series and hence, the fifth seed if they beat Detroit in 60 minutes.
While the Red Wings could fall to sixth, they could also jump up to the fourth spot and get home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. For that to happen, they would need to beat the Blackhawks and get a regulation loss from the Predators tonight in Colorado because Nashville owns the tiebreaker.
Detroit did have a two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday with a 2-1 setback to New Jersey. The defeat also pushed the Red Wings' home record to 31-7-2 on the season.
Tomas Holmstrom scored Detroit's only goal and Jimmy Howard made 19 saves, getting beat for the game-winner with 8:40 to play.
"We made a mistake there where one guy slips by us and it cost us the game," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "Aside from that one mistake I thought we played a good game."
The Blackhawks were also in action on Thursday and a poor finish doomed them to a 2-1 shootout defeat. Chicago allowed the game-tying goal with 3:12 left in regulation and only managed two shots on net after the second period.
"I thought we played pretty well actually, we had a lot of chances and I think we controlled most of the game," said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who returned from a five-game suspension. "They just stuck around and they were able to capitalize on their chances."
Jamal Mayers scored the lone goal for the Blackhawks, who have dropped two straight in a shootout and are 8-1-4 in their past 13 games. Corey Crawford allowed just a single goal on 23 shots through overtime.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews traveled with his club to Minnesota, but sat out his 21st game in a row due to an upper-body injury thought to be a concussion. While it was an encouraging sign he is traveling and has been cleared for contact, he will not play today in Chicago's regular season finale and Toews' status for the first round of the playoffs is still cloudy.
The Blackhawks are 6-0-1 in their last seven games in Detroit.
04/07 10:30:59 ET