The Athletic’s Max Bultman discusses the ramifications of possible divisional realignment for the 2020-2021 season upon the Red Wings this morning. Bultman’s bottom line is blunt:
Look, the Red Wings are unlikely to have a realistic shot at the playoffs in 2021. Even if Detroit were to add the most wins of any team from last season, it’s starting from a steep deficit. Finishing in 31st place again is a more reasonable expectation than making it into the top 16.
That said, if the season ends up significantly abbreviated, then one hot (or cold) streak has to the potential to carry outsize bearing on a team’s overall record. And that’s where chaos can happen.
But you still have to be able to put that kind of hot streak together. And bringing Cup contenders such as Pittsburgh and St. Louis into the fold for regular matchups would make that a challenge. That’s to say nothing of the actual defending champs, if the Lightning do indeed stick in the Red Wings’ division. And don’t forget the Blue Jackets, who have proven they’re a tough out for anyone.
On the other hand, regional divisions could also mean getting away from Boston, a perennial contender (albeit one Detroit went 2-1 against last season). And adding a team like Chicago, which announced its intention to rebuild this offseason, could make for a few “anything can happen” games. Maybe it all just ends up a wash, compared to the Atlantic.