Kulfan: Red Wings’ path to playoffs just too daunting

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings are enjoying their “bye” week, so news surrounding the team has come to a standstill.

But that doesn’t mean other teams are still playing, and news continues in the NHL.

Here are some of the popular questions — stated in various ways (salty language excluded) — in the mailbox these past few days.

■ News: The Red Wings are six points off a wild-card spot. Will they make the playoffs?

■ Views: First off, can we assume the Red Wings will not be one of the top three teams in the Atlantic Division and earn an automatic spot?

Tampa, Boston and Toronto are pulling away, are projected to go over 100 points, and simply look a cut above everyone else in the Atlantic.

The Red Wings aren’t going to catch those teams.

So, their best bet is to concentrate on securing one of the two wild-card spots, on which the Metropolitan Division seems to have dibs.

It’s not going to be easy for the Red Wings.

They’ll have to climb over Carolina, Philadelphia, the New York Islanders and Florida, just to have to pass two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh (let’s forget about the first wild-card team, New York Rangers).

We saw this first-hand last season. The Red Wings fell behind, and then you saw how difficult it is to climb over teams because many of those teams are playing against each other, so someone is gaining two points, and you also have the variable of three-point games, with losing gaining a point for the regulation tie.

The Red Wings will have to go on a huge, huge run, something like Ottawa’s 20-1-2 stretch three years ago, and that is so unlikely.

■ News: Mike Green is the lone Red Wings’ selection for the Jan. 28 All-Star Game. Any surprise that a player such as Dylan Larkin or Anthony Mantha wasn’t selected?

■ Views: First off, there very well could be changes to the Atlantic Division lineup, given the likelihood of players getting hurt or bowing out of the game for other reasons.

Someone else from the Red Wings very well might still wind up going.

Let’s face it: Most players would rather have the weekend off than play in the All-Star Game, although having the game in warm Tampa this season does help matters considerably.

Larkin is deserving, obviously, but the players picked ahead of him certainly are fine players and deserve it, too.

You’re not going to make everyone happy, and the rosters are small.


■ News: Are these “bye” weeks a good idea by the NHL?

■ Views: Obviously nobody is going to complain about getting four of five days off from work.

But if you ask players, some of them would prefer to have those days worked into the schedule and maybe do away with the longer time off, and rather have the two or three days off more often.

It is odd scheduling for teams like the Red Wings, and the others on the bye cycle right now. They just had a three-day holiday break over Christmas, now have the five-day bye, and later this month have three days for the All-Star break.

All in the matter of about a 40-day span.

And, looking ahead, the Red Wings have a rugged schedule in February and, especially March, with few days off and traveling all over the place.

Maybe having the bye week later in the schedule, which has been discussed, would be a preferable placement.

■ News: The Olympic rosters are beginning to be announced, with the Winter Games beginning next month. Is it disappointing the NHL isn’t participating this cycle?

■ Views: First off, I do feel happy for the players who are representing their countries. What an accomplishment, an honor, and they should feel proud for what they’ve achieved to get there.

Good for them.

As for the NHL, it’s certainly disappointing the league and the NHL Players Association couldn’t work something out.

The majority of fans would love to see the best hockey players in the world competing for their countries — never mind the crazy time difference, being the games are in South Korea.

Many of these tournaments have been a joy to watch. Outstanding, breathtaking hockey.

But, again, let’s not take away what these players who’ve been selected for next month’s tournament have accomplished. It’s their rightful time to shine.

And don’t be surprised if the attention and interest they get, as the tournament draws near and takes place, is greater than some would anticipate today.

There will be good stories on those teams.