Pressure tightening on Red Wings and Howard
San Jose is just a point behind the Red Wings for the No.2 seed in the Western Conference, both teams having played 74 games. It's impossible to project who the Red Wings will play in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. As a second seed, it would be Nashville right now. As a third seed, it would be Los Angeles. It's kind of pick-your-poison type of thing - both those teams are big and physical, and could give the Red Wings a tough time in the opening round. Each is arguably stronger in goal than the Red Wings (Pekka Rinne, Nashville; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles).
Could come down to Jimmy Howard. He played well Wednesday against Vancouver. Then again, did he match the Canucks' Roberto Luongo? Not really.
The Western Conference is stronger than usual top-to-bottom. It will be tough for the Red Wings from the very beginning of the playoffs this spring.