Evgeny Kuznetsov

PHT Power Rankings: Red Wings hit rock bottom


For two decades the Detroit Red Wings were on top of the NHL (or at least consistently close to it) and one of the elite franchises in the league. Always in the playoffs, usually a legitimate threat to win it all, and a Stanley Cup Finalist six times between 1995 and 2009, more than any other team in the league during that stretch.

Eventually that run was going to end, and in recent seasons you could kind of see the slide slowly starting to begin. They stopped winning in the playoffs. They had become a team that would get into the top-eight but never really go anywhere once they got there. Core players got older. The scouting staff and farm system wasn’t finding and developing Hall of Famers in the back half of the draft anymore.

The team was clearly starting to descend down the mountain.

That descent has now turned into a complete collapse, and they may have hit rock bottom over the past couple of weeks.

At least for this season. Who knows how much deeper this can go in future seasons.

After being systematically dismantled by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Red Wings enter the week having lost 10 games in a row, have one of the worst records in the NHL, and just look … bad.

The most concerning thing of all, though, is that this is not just a bad team this season, it is one of the oldest teams in the NHL, one of the most expensive teams in the NHL, and 15 of the players on the roster are under contract for next season with more than $58 million in cap space committed to them.

Even worse: Who on this team is a player that can be the centerpiece of any sort of a rebuild or offer legitimate hope for the future?

Dylan Larkin is still only 21 years old and has shown flashes of being an impact player at various times in his young career. But he has also 23 goals … over the past two years. Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou look like they could be useful players, but they are not franchise building blocks. Gustav Nyquist is going to be 29 next season and has topped 50 points once in his career. There is not one player on the defense right now that is under the age of 27 and other than Mike Green all of them are signed through at least next season.

All of that, including the recent 10-game losing streak, has them sitting in the No. 31 spot in this week’s PHT Power Rankings.

Where does everyone else sit?

To the rankings!

The Elites

1. Nashville Predators — These guys have not lost a game in regulation since Feb. 17 and have only lost two in regulation since the beginning of February. Best record in the league, hottest team in the league, where else are they going to be in the standings?

2. Boston Bruins — Maybe the wrong Bruin has been getting MVP buzz this season. Instead of Patrice Bergeron it might be Brad Marchand that is driving the bus.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning — They have not played their best hockey lately … and they are still 10-2-1 over their past 13 games. Insanity.

4. Winnipeg Jets — Patrik Laine is still an unstoppable force right now. Ovechkin-like in his recent dominance.

The rest of the contenders

5. Toronto Maple Leafs — They have not had Auston Matthews, their best player, since Feb. 22 and are still 6-2-2 in 10 games without him and enter the week riding a four-game winning streak.

6. Vegas Golden Knights — They are only 7-6-1 in their past 14 games and starting to cool off just slightly. Still have a firm grip on the Pacific Division and William Karlsson is going to score more than 40 goals this season. What a season.

7. Washington Capitals — Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s injury could be a big deal in the short-term. Also sort of a big deal: What is going on with the goalie situation where Philip Grubauer is taking some starts from Braden Holtby. And playing really, really, really well.

8. Minnesota Wild — Eric Staal is two goals away from what would be his third 40-goal season. Only six other active players (Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash, and Marian Hossa — technically he is still active) have at least three such seasons.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins — Goaltending is still a huge question mark with Matt Murray sidelined, but he seems to be getting closer to a return. The Penguins need him if they are going to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup.

The middle ground

10. Columbus Blue Jackets — With seven wins in a row they have not only solidified their playoff position, they have a real chance to get back into the top-three in the Metropolitan Division. Would that give them the best possible matchup in the first-round, though (potentially playing Pittsburgh instead of Washington)?

11. San Jose Sharks — Not many people are talking about the Sharks but they are going for home-ice in the first-round and have won seven of their past nine games. All of this without Joe Thornton for most of the season.

12. Colorado Avalanche — They have earned at least a point in 12 of their past 14 games and Nathan MacKinnon is playing like the league MVP. They are quietly making a push at a top-three spot in the Central Division.

13. New Jersey Devils — After going five consecutive games without a point, No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischer has bounced back with five points in his past five games. He may not be Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews as a No. 1 overall pick, but he is the second-leading scorer on a playoff team as a 19-year-old. That is impressive.

14. Philadelphia Flyers — Petr Mrazek has not been good since arriving in Philadelphia, carrying an .888 save percentage with the Flyers into the week.

15. Anaheim Ducks — Rickard Rakell is making a run for the title of “NHL’s most underrated player.” He is currently in the middle of his second straight 30-goal season.

16. St. Louis Blues — It is kind of amazing they are still hanging around. They looked finished a week ago but four wins in five games has kept their playoff hopes alive.

17. Los Angeles Kings — They are clinging to a playoff spot but their inconsistency has made it impossible for them to put any distance between them and the rest of the pack.

Fading fast

18. Florida Panthers — All of that work to get back into the playoff race then they lose home games to Ottawa and Edmonton and now have to play seven of their next eight games on the road.

19. Calgary Flames — Mike Smith had a great season prior to his injury and his absence was a big part of their late season slide. His return has not yet made an impact as he has given up 10 goals in his first two starts.

20. Dallas Stars — There is never a good time to lose eight out of 10, but the worst possible time to do it is late in the season when you are in the middle of a tight playoff race with five other teams. They are spending way too much money to be this mediocre.

The Lottery

21. Edmonton Oilers — Connor McDavid is trying to win the scoring title for the second year in a row, and with the way he is going right now it would probably not be wise to bet against him. It is appalling that the team around him is so bad.

22. New York Rangers — Alexandar Georgiev has played well down the stretch, and Ryan Spooner has put up a ton of points since being acquired in the big trade with the Boston Bruins. So there is that.

23. Carolina Hurricanes — This season has been the past few years of this organization in a nutshell. Just enough to build up excitement, seem like they are getting close, then fell apart.

24. Chicago Blackhawks — Alex DeBrincat has three hat tricks this season and is tied for the team lead in goals as a rookie. He has been a bright spot in a lost season.

25. Ottawa Senators — They had a chance to play spoiler with three wins in a row recently, including two over playoff hopefuls Florida and Dallas.

26. Arizona Coyotes — They still have the worst record in the league, but as we said a week ago they haven’t played like the worst team in the league for a few weeks. And have you seen the teams below them lately? Yikes.

27. Buffalo Sabres — Jack Eichel is back which should give Sabres fans something worthwhile to watch down the stretch.

28. New York Islanders — They have won five of their past 22 games and only one of their past 12. What else is left to say? The only win for this team this season is they own Calgary’s first (and second) round draft pick which should give them two shots at the draft lottery.

A tier all their own at the bottom

29. Montreal Canadiens — An already mediocre team without three of its top players (Carey Price, Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty) and the recent results are reflecting that.

30. Vancouver Canucks — Sometimes it seems like we have not really paid much attention to just how bad the Canucks have been over the past three seasons.

31. Detroit Red Wings — Ten. Games. In. A Row.


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

PHT Morning Skate: Luongo on Parkland; Tocchet takes a leave of absence

Artemi Panarin / Twitter

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• What do we think of Artemi Panarin‘s new hat? [Twitter]

Alex Ovechkin‘s parents pen him a letter after the Washington Capitals superstar notched career goal No. 600. [NHL.com]

Evgeny Kuznetsov adequately sums up Ovechkin’s feat: “Holy f— that’s a lot of goals.” [RMNB]

• Florida Panthers goalie and Parkland resident Roberto Luongo: “We need to keep talking about this” [ESPN]

• Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet is taking a leave of absence due to an illness in his family. Assistant coach John MacLean will take over coaching duties until Tocchet returns. [Coyotes]

Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators on the trade that nearly sent him and Erik Karlsson out of town: “I heard on Sunday it was done and somebody backed out at the last second. Karl and I were like, ‘pack it up’. We thought we were gone. That’s just the way it goes. Then you’re like, I’ve got to move again? I guess I’ll just wait and see how it goes in the summer. That’s all you can do.” [Ottawa Sun]

• What do you do when you’re a team with one “Hartsy” and you add another? Ask the Nashville Predators and Ryan Hartman and Scott Hartnell. [Tennessean]

• Speaking of the Preds, who’s going to stop them? [TSN]

• Is it time to worry about Andre Vasilevskiy’s workload with the Tampa Bay Lightning? [Raw Charge]

• As they cling to a playoff spot out west, the Anaheim Ducks are keeping an eye on the teams around them. [OC Register]

• Brian Gionta and Chris Kelly go from the Olympics straight into the NHL playoff race. [SI.com]

• The question facing the Carolina Hurricanes: What now? [Spector’s Hockey]

• Are scoring chances better than Corsi? [Maple Leafs Nation]

• A stick and jersey from Canadian women’s Olympic team players Sarah Nurse and Brigette Lacquette are heading to the Hockey Hall of Fame. [Color of Hockey]

• It’s bracket time! So why not take a gander at what the NHL playoffs would look like if it was done like March Madness. [On the Forecheck]

• Finally, as Ovi hits 600, let’s hop in the wayback machine for one of his best goals ever:


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks

1 Comment



Washington Capitals

Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromTom Wilson

Jakub VranaEvgeny KuznetsovT.J. Oshie

Brett ConnollyLars EllerAndre Burakovsky

Chandler StephensonJay BeagleDevante Smith-Pelly

Michal KempnyJohn Carlson

Dmitry OrlovMatt Niskanen

Brooks OrpikChristian Djoos

Starting goalie: Braden Holtby

[Capitals – Ducks preview]

Anaheim Ducks


Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Jason ChimeraDerek Grant — Chris Kelly

Cam FowlerBrandon Montour

Marcus PetterssonHampus Lindholm

Josh MansonKevin Bieksa

Starting goalie: John Gibson

The Buzzer: Caps stay perfect outdoors; five points for Stamkos

Getty Images

Player of the Night: Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning captain had himself quite a game during an amazing tilt Saturday afternoon. Stamkos scored twice, assisted on three others and put home the game-clinching shootout goal during a wild 7-6 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The five points are a career high for Stamkos. Victor Hedman had two goals and four points while Nikita Kucherov kept his march toward a Hart Trophy with three helpers. Tampa has won six of their last seven games.

Highlight of the Night: Jamie Benn scored 3:04 into overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 3-2 win over the struggling St. Louis Blues. To celebrate, the Stars captain decided to snap his stick over his knee:


Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scored a goal and added two assists to help the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 Stadium Series game at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. Alex Ovechkin hit the 40-goal mark for the ninth time of his career while scoring his 598th NHL goal.

• The Los Angeles Kings melted down in the final 10 minutes of the third period as they watched a 3-1 lead evaporate in a span of 7:14 as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks. LA scored three times in the second period, but then Artem Anisimov, Vinnie Hinostroza and Jonathan Toews turned the game quickly, thanks to a pair of power play goals.

• The Blues have now dropped eight of their last nine games. They sit one point out of a Western Conference wild card.

Jake DeBrusk tied the game with 2:45 left in regulation and Brad Marchand netted the winner 2:06 into overtime as the Boston Bruins topped the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. The win gave Boston the season-sweep over Montreal for the first time since 1994-95.

Charlie McAvoy left the game in early with a lower-body injury and did not return.

Sidney Crosby scored his 22nd goal of the season in overtime to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. Derick Brassard scored his first goal with the Penguins.

Brandon Davidson opened the scoring for the Islanders thanks to this blooper reel from Tristan Jarry:

Jordan Martinook‘s second period goal was the difference as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Antti Raanta made 23 saves for his third straight win and fifth win in six starts.

• Behind Alexandar Georgiev‘s 35 saves, Chris Kreider‘s first goal since returning from a blood clot and two points from Mika Zibanejad, the New York Rangers got by the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. New York has now won three straight games while being outshot 143-88. Connor McDavid potted his 30th of the season, making him the first Oiler with consecutive 30-goal seasons since Ryan Smyth in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Factoid of the Night:

Lightning 7, Flyers 6 (SO)
Stars, 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Blackhawks 5, Kings 3
Penguins 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Bruins 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Coyotes 2, Senators 1
Capitals 5, Maple Leafs 2
Rangers 3, Oilers 2


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Stadium Series: Capitals top Maple Leafs, stay perfect outdoors

AP Images

After the pomp and circumstance concluded at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, the Washington Capitals put on their own show while defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 in front of 29,516 fans during the 2018 Stadium Series game.

A procession march featuring USNA midshipmen led the teams out, the gold medal-winning U.S. olympic women’s hockey and U.S. men’s curling teams were honored and a fly-over featuring the “World Famous Fighting Black Lions” were some of the sights of the NHL’s final outdoor game of the season.

The teams combined for three goals in the opening 6:19, with the Capitals grabbing a 2-1 lead, thanks to Alex Ovechkin, who reached the 40-goal mark for the ninth time in his career while potting goal No. 598.

“40 is nice, but 50 is better. So still have time to do that,” said Ovechkin afterward. “But again I have to focus, I have to keep playing, easy chances and it will come.”

The Capitals captain is now the sixth player in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season nine times, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner and Mike Bossy.

Nicklas Backstrom would add to Washington’s lead late in the opening period to put the Capitals at 2-for-2 on the power play.

The Maple Leafs tried to claw back into this game when Nazem Kadri cut the lead to 3-2 in the second period, but John Carlson would answer 43 seconds later and Jakub Vrana would then increase the Capitals lead to 5-2.

Backstrom, Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov each finished with a goal and two assists while Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots.

The eventual Capitals victory was delayed for 15 minutes when the stadium’s lights lost power as the teams switched sides during the midway point of the third period.

The lights would turn back on in the stadium, but they would go out for the Maple Leafs’ chances as the Capitals won for the third time in their last four games and kept their record in outdoor games a perfect 3-0-0.

“You follow your top guys, and I thought tonight you look at Backstrom, Ovechkin and [Tom] Wilson, that line led, and Kuznetsov followed that,” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. “And on the back end, I thought our defense core as a group were really solid. And I thought Holts had a real good response, especially in the second period he had a couple of big saves for us.

“So every team follows their leaders, and when your leaders are dialed in, I thought they were dialed in tonight. I thought they just pulled the rest of the group.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.