Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: So long, Wings' streak
One needs to salute the 25-year Stanley Cup playoff streak that’s about to come to an end with the Detroit Red Wings. It’s not dissimilar to the NHL-record 29-year streak for the Bruins that came to an end right before the B’s selected Jumbo Joe Thornton with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997, and set their franchise off in a different direction ultimately leading to the 2011 Stanley Cup.
Still, this is about a Red Wings team that dealt away Tomas Jurco in a sign they are going to be sellers at the March 1 trade deadline. It's a team that has qualified for the playoffs every single spring since 1991. So with that in mind, let’s reel off some facts from the season when Detroit first embarked on their playoff streak that’s about to expire when they miss the playoff cut:
*Fired Panthers coach Gerard Gallant was a 27-year-old left winger on that Red Wings team and had no idea he’d be taking an infamous taxi cab from Carolina 25 years into the future. Former Bruins assistant coaches Doug Houda and Marc Habscheid were also players that logged time on Detroit’s roster that season.
*Steve Yzerman had 51 goals and 108 points for that Red Wings team and led them to the postseason, along with fresh-faced 21-year-old Sergei Federov.
*Ray Bourque won his fourth Norris Trophy over a stretch of five years with the Bruins, with Chris Chelios as the only other D-man to take home the trophy in that five year span.
*Wayne Gretzky won the Art Ross and Lady Byng trophies that season and finished with 163 points. That is not a typo for all the millenial hockey fans that never got to see point totals like that.
*Dirk Graham won the Selke Trophy. I have no recollection of Mr. Dirk Graham, or what team that he played for despite his obviously great defensive work.
Anyway, without further ado, here are this week’s power rankings:
1. Washington Capitals (41-12-7, previous ranking: 1)
The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games and continue rolling without much resistance. They may win the President’s Trophy, but the real question is whether they can win Lord Stanley’s Trophy.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-14-8, PR: 3)
Another season and another outdoor game for Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 3.5 goals per game for the high-octane Pens is impressive.
3. Minnesota Wild (39-14-6, PR: 3)
The Wild have 10 players with double-digit goal totals this season. Man, that is some impressive scoring depth for a team that struggled for offense as recently as last season.
4. New York Rangers (39-19-2, PR: 4
Things are starting to tighten up for the Blueshirts as they’ve played three one-goal games in a row and can’t do much more than lock up a guaranteed playoff spot out of the Metro Division.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (37-16-5, PR: 6)
The Blue Jackets are rolling toward the playoffs and giving former players the Ryan Johansen treatment. No time for sentiment when you’re the hockey juggernaut out of Columbus.
6. Chicago Blackhawks (38-18-5, previous rank: 5)
Back-to-back hat trick performances from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane should send the signal that the Blackhawks are done screwing around. Now, they’ve got Tomas Jurco along for the ride.
7. San Jose Sharks (35-18-7, PR: 7)
The Sharks are 4-1-5 in their past 10. Boy, that’s not a record you see very often, but San Jose continues to set the pace for everybody else in the Pacific.
8. Anaheim Ducks (32-20-10, PR: 9)
Rickard Rakell is having a pretty damned good season and he’s got a cool hockey name on top of it. It certainly doesn’t stink to be Rickard Rakell these days.
9. Ottawa Senators (32-21-6, PR: 12)
Everybody continues to look past the Senators in the Atlantic Division, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this team ends up taking the divisional title at the end. A move for another top-6 player like Matt Duchene could really put them over the top.
10. Montreal Canadiens (32-21-8, PR: 8)
The Habs are 1-2-0 in three games under Claude Julien and have scored a grand total of two goals in those three. Boy, it doesn’t seem like Montreal is getting that “new coach” bounce.
11. New York Islanders (29-21-10, PR: 18)
The Isles have ripped off another three-game winning streak under Doug Weight and find themselves in a wild-card playoff spot. They are part of what’s shaping up to be a crazy finish in the Eastern Conference.
12. Edmonton Oilers (33-21-8, PR: 10)
The Oilers are 4-3-0 in seven games since coming off the bye week and are basically treading water for a Western Conference playoff spot right now. They could use a little more of a hot stretch prior to gaining entrance into the postseason.
13. Nashville Predators (29-22-9, PR: 14)
The Predators are on the edge of the playoffs but first in my opinion after finally booting problem child Mike Ribeiro off their roster a few weeks back. That is the ultimate addition by subtraction.
14. St. Louis Blues (31-24-5, PR: 13)
Boy, St. Louis must be awesome if Kevin Shattenkirk is turning down seven years and $42 million just to hang out there for a little while longer. Either that or he knows the team of his dreams (not the Bruins) is ready to show him the money in free agency.
15. Boston Bruins (31-24-6, PR: 15)
The Bruins finally lost one under Bruce Cassidy, but they’ve won five of six while scoring goals, stabilizing their backup goalie situation and consistently showing a higher work ethic. Everything is clearly awesome!
16. Calgary Flames (32-26-4, PR: 24)
While others are getting the hype, Matthew Tkachuk is having a hell of a rookie season. He’s got his share of points and he’s playing a rugged game that they are loving it in Cow Town.
17. Florida Panthers (28-22-10, PR: 19)
A long, winning streak has the Panthers back in the mix, but they’re going to need a sustained period of elevated, winning hockey to bust into the playoffs. The two-game losing streak after the winning streak isn’t the way to get that done.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (28-20-12, PR: 11)
The Leafs are starting to show some of the scars from battling at playoff levels and Mitch Marner has been one of the injury problems as of late. There’s a real question as to whether he can handle playoff-level physicality despite the obvious elite skill level.
19. Philadelphia Flyers (28-25-7, PR: 17)
Ron Hextall isn’t to add at the deadline to a team that’s probably going to need a push if it's going to get into the playoffs. That’s the right call with a team that’s still building with young players learning lessons under their coach Dave Hakstol.
20. Los Angeles Kings (29-27-4, PR: 16)
The Kings are getting Jonathan Quick back, but is it too late at this point? Six losses in their past eight games isn’t a good look for LA if it wants to be one of the playoff teams standing at the end of it all.
21. Tampa Bay Lightning (27-25-8, PR: 21)
It’s just too bad that Tampa Bay can’t submit a Jonathan Drouin highlight tape for entrance into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Because it might just be good enough to get them in if they could.
22. Buffalo Sabres (26-24-10, PR: 23)
The rebuild plan for Tim Murray and the Sabres has stalled out in Year Two of Jack Eichel, so now might be the time to start making some adjustments to it. Trading away Evander Kane would be a good start to that.
23. Carolina Hurricanes (25-24-8, PR: 22)
It’s certifiably crazy that Carolina has only played 57 games, the fewest in the NHL. The NHL needs to make some significant changes to the way they execute the bye weeks next season. It sounds like they’re going to do just that.
24. New Jersey Devils (25-25-10, PR: 20)
The Devils finally hit another losing skid the past couple of weeks and had to healthy scratch Mike Cammalleri at one point. It’s time to start preparing for next season with another Taylor Hall-led team again missing out on the postseason.
25. Vancouver Canucks (26-28-6, PR: 25)
As if it wasn’t bad enough for the Canucks, now they have a bunch of players going down with the mumps. I still don’t understand how this is happening in a league where players come from countries with things like medicine and vaccines, but the Canucks are Patient Zero if the playoff field ends up getting decimated by the mumps.
26. Winnipeg Jets (28-29-6, PR: 26)
The fact that the Jets are where they are right now despite point-per-game players Mark Schiefele and Patrik Laine...well, it’s stupefying. Some things need to change for this group if it’s going to be different next season.
27. Detroit Red Wings (24-26-10, PR: 27)
The trade of Tomas Jurco is believed to just be the tip of the iceberg for Ken Holland and the Wings as they commiserate over an epic playoff streak that’s about to go down the tubes. It’s for the best, however, as Detroit really needs to rip off the Band-Aid and starting building from their young pieces.
28. Dallas Stars (24-27-10, PR: 28)
The Stars dealt away Patrick Eaves and might even get a first-round pick for him if Anaheim advances deeply enough in the playoffs. That’s the first significant win for this Stars group in a long, long time.
29. Arizona Coyotes (21-32-7, PR: 29)
Michael Stone’s exodus from Arizona should be the start of a number of deadline dumps for the Coyotes unless their GM gets a little too greedy. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata have some value, but let’s be honest here: Who really has much value is in that Coyotes tire fire that’s been going on all season?
30. Colorado Avalanche (16-40-3, PR: 30)
It’s another three-game losing streak for an Avalanche team that might be the most talented bad NHL team that I’ve seen in quite some time. Really. How can they be as horrendous as they are?