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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.