NASHVILLE – The Stanley Cup Playoffs without the Detroit Red Wings is a hard thing to imagine.
For 21 straight years, the Red Wings have qualified for the postseason, winning the Cup more times (four) than any other NHL team in that span.
Yet with seven games remaining in the season, the Red Wings currently are on the outside looking in. On Saturday, while Detroit was idle, the Red Wings saw themselves fall out of the top eight in the Western Conference and into ninth.
By virtue of holding a game in hand on Detroit, the Dallas Stars, with their 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, jumped past the Red Wings, even though the two teams are tied with 45 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets, with a 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, also tied the Red Wings in the points column, although Detroit holds a game in hand on its Central Division rival.
It's unfamiliar territory for the Red Wings, who visit the Nashville Predators on Sunday. These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season, but this year both could be out.