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Red Wings @ Penguins Preview: A Likely Playoff Preview

With only a few games left in the season, talk of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are heating up.  Tonight, two longtime rivals will face off in what is likely a playoff preview.

The Detroit Red Wings can assure their 23rd straight trip to the playoffs if they can get a point against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Penguins will have Kris Letang back to help make sure that does not happen.  The Penguins have already clinched the Metropolitan Division title and are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Given the current standings, the Red Wings will be in the first wildcard spot, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, which will pit them against the Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs.  In other words, this is likely a preview of the first playoff game.

Detroit coach Mike Badock set a franchise record for wins on Tuesday, but all the focus is on the playoffs. The Red Wings are barely clinging to a playoff run and one wrong move, and it could be the first time in 23 season that the Red Wings do not appear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins have three regular season game left to play and all of them are at home.  With the Penguin playoff spot secured and coach Dan Bylsma’s sentiments that his main concern at the moment is keeping his team healthy for the playoffs, we may not see a Penguin squad giving 100 percent effort.

No one will blame them either.  Letang is finally returning from a stroke he suffered in January and NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby sat out Sunday’s game with an injury.  Crosby is rumored to return to face off against the Red Wings. The question is, will his playtime be limited for the sake of ensuring his health for the playoffs?

This is the third game in this season series.  The series is currently split 1-1.  The Red Wings won the last game in overtime on March 20.

The Penguins are the favorites to win this game.  It starts at 8 p.m. ET and you can watch it on NBCSN or TSN2.

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