NHL Playoff Picture Update: Red Wings move back into top eight

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

The Detroit Red Wings picked up a huge two points on Wednesday night. (USATSI)
The Detroit Red Wings picked up a huge two points on Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

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The Detroit Red Wings needed this one, and for one night they played like the Red Wings team that we've been used to seeing in recent years in a 3-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

The win moves Detroit back into the top-eight (for the time being) of the Western Conference and pushes them ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who fall down to ninth place.

The scoreboard may not fully indicate it, but this was a pretty dominant showing by the Wings. It was almost as if they hopped into Dr. Brown's DeLorean and set the date for 2008, because this looked like the Red Wings team that used to compete for Stanley Cups.

They dominated the puck, they controlled the pace of the game from the opening faceoff (nearly 63 percent of the shot attempts in the game belonged to Detroit, which is incredible, especially against one of the best possession teams in the league), and they received some big goals from their best players.

Like this beauty from Pavel Datsyuk in the second period to tie the game at one.

Along with goals from Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, the Red Wings also had some huge contributions from some of their lower lines, including Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves. Tootoo scored what proved to be the game-winning goal midway through the third period and with his line on the ice they outshot Los Angeles 8-1 during 5-on-5 situations.

If the Red Wings can play like this over their final two games (home against Nashville on Thursday and at Dallas on Saturday) they might have no trouble getting one of the remaining playoff spots, and they might even be able to make some noise in the playoffs. If they had played like this two months ago they might not be in these must-win situations late in the year.

Toronto gets blown out in Tampa Bay

The Maple Leafs, having already clinched a playoff spot, have nothing else to play for at this point other than seeding in the Eastern Conference.

They entered Wednesday's game in Tampa Bay in fifth place with 55 points and seemingly on a path to meet longtime rival Montreal in the first round. But after getting blown out by the Lightning 5-2, there's a chance the New York Islanders could still catch them (the Islanders trail Toronto by just one point) over the next couple of days and knock Toronto down to sixth and set up a first-round matchup with Washingotn.

Blackhawks win Presidents' Trophy

It was only a matter of time until they clinched it but the Chicago Blackhawks won the Presidents' Trophy on Wednesday night with a 4-1 win in Edmonton, locking up the best record in the NHL this season. They've been at the top of the NHL standings all season and now have home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sharks lose to Phoenix, remain in fourth

The Phoenix Coyotes were already eliminated from playoff contention before their game against San Jose started, but that didn't stop them from pulling off a 2-1 win over the Sharks thanks to a stellar performance from Mike Smith in net.

The Sharks remain in fourth place in the Western Conference with 57 points, tied with their division rivals from Los Angeles. San Jose would have fallen down to fifth place with the loss had the Kings gained a point in Detroit, but they fell to the Red Wings 3-1.

 
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