I agree about the travel and about the opponents. But keep in mind, SJ, Van, LA, Phx, those all have to do plenty of travel themselves. I don't know if it's harder for them to travel here and play earlier games to their biological clocks or for east coast teams to travel west and play later games according to their biological clocks (probably better to travel east than west actually).
In a perfect scenario, Chicago gets 7th or 8th, we get 3rd, avoid Chicago, and let Chicago take a shot at upsetting one of the other two big boys who in my opinion, and it is painful to say it, look to be the teams to beat over the Wings in the west. Not just because they finished higher in standing, but because they have not won anything and both teams are very good, well rounded, well coached, and have had disappointing post seasons in recent memory.
I don't know if I'm more afraid of Vancouver or SJ this year. San Jose just looks scary as hell. They just dismantled Dallas, a team that is trying ot make the playoffs, then just dismantled LA, which was trying to catch them in the standings. scoring 6 goals on both of those teams in a 'playoff atmosphere' to me is scary.
Chicago scares me because they're the one team that has something to prove specfically with beating Detroit. I don't think the wings will go to Chicago and win any games there. I think it would be a seven game series and a home team series (home team wins all the games). That chitcago crowd is BRUTAL. I can't stand the "Detroit Sucks" chant constantly. I just don't want to go through that, at least not in round 1. IF we were to get them in round 2 or even 3 I could deal with it then, but not round 1. That would likely mean we'd have to face Chicago, SJ, then VAN and that would probably be an overbearing path.
You're right, Red Wings should just forfeit the playoffs this year.