The longest active playoff streak in North American pro sports is in jeopardy. The last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the Stanley Cup playoffs, the calendar had just flipped to 1990. That 21-year run includes four Stanley Cups and two more losses in the championship series. Few pro sports teams have ever had as successful a stretch. But all good things must come to an end, and the Red Wings are no longer an elite team. In a critical game at woeful Calgary on Wednesday, they lost 3-2, allowing the Columbus Blue Jackets to pass them for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
There is still hope, however. Columbus played Thursday night in Los Angeles, so the Red Wings have two games in hand to catch up. Entering play Friday, Detroit has more regulation and overtime wins -- the first tiebreaker. There is irony here, given the team that could knock Detroit out. Columbus has made the playoffs just once since entering the NHL in 2000. That appearance was a 4-game sweep by the Red Wings in 2009.