**UPDATE: The Red Wings will play either San Jose or Nashville. This post explains the updated scenarios.**
It feels like the Detroit Red Wings wrapped up their series against the Phoenix Coyotes ages ago. In reality it was only four days ago, but it feels much longer for two reasons: 1) Detroit still doesn't know its second-round opponent; and 2) Washington is the only other team that has finished its series so far.
To say the least, the Red Wings were ahead of the pack when they swept the Coyotes. Only on Saturday did the Capitals become the second team in the 2011 NHL playoffs to advance to the second round. They finished up the Rangers for a 4-1 series win, but that's it for teams that have advanced. The San Jose Sharks had a chance to wrap up their series, but they lost at home to the Los Angeles Kings. That series, like every other non-Red Wings series in the Western Conference and every non-Capitals series in the Eastern Conference, is headed to a sixth game.
What this all means for the Red Wings is that they won't find out their opponent for the second round until late Monday night (when the Sharks play again) at the earliest. Which team they will play in the Western Conference semifinals depends on what both the Vancouver Canucks and Sharks do against the Blackhawks and Kings, respectively. Below is a look at the different scenarios.
Canucks win, Sharks win: If Vancouver and San Jose manage to hold serve when all is said and done, the Red Wings would be the third-highest seed remaining. This would leave them playing the Sharks, and San Jose would have home-ice advantage. Just like against Phoenix, this scenario would produce a rematch from last year's NHL playoffs in the same exact round.
Canucks win, Sharks lose: If San Jose chokes away a 3-1 series lead and the Canucks don't choke away what once was a 3-0 lead, the Red Wings would get home-ice advantage in the next round. Vancouver would take on the Kings, the seventh seed in the West. The Red Wings would draw the winner of the Anaheim Ducks/Nashville Predators series, which Nashville currently leads by a 3-2 margin.
Canucks lose, Sharks win: If Vancouver pulls off one of the greatest choke jobs in sports history and loses in seven games to the Blackhawks and San Jose dispatches of LA, the Red Wings would once again get home-ice advantage. Like the previous scenario, they would be the second-highest remaining seed, so San Jose would play Chicago and the Red Wings would draw either Nashville or Anaheim.
Canucks lose, Sharks lose: If both Vancouver and San Jose choke enough to get themselves eliminated, the Red Wings would come out of the first round as the highest remaining seed. Obviously that would give them home-ice advantage, and it would also give them a matchup against the No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks. This would be the most interesting matchup for the next round in my opinion, as you would have a big rivalry and the storyline of Detroit sweeping Phoenix while Chicago had to battle to seven games to overcome a 3-0 deficit against the West's top seed.
As for when the Red Wings will finally get to start the next round, it's looking more and more like they will be waiting until Friday. There are bound to be at least a couple series headed to a seventh game with six set for a sixth game. In the West, it's possible all three of the remaining series could go to a seventh game. What that means for the Red Wings is that they could end up playing a team just a couple days after they won a Game 7 to move on. Last year, the Red Wings were in that situation, as they took seven games to beat Phoenix and had to start their series against San Jose just days later. This year it looks like they will wind up getting more than a week off, whereas their opponent will be playing on very little rest.