The Chicago Blackhawks were ranked “only” No. 13 in ESPN.com’s weekly power rankings, released on Monday, which may have been a gift. Right now it’s hard to imagine the Hawks could beat many of the teams behind them, let alone the elite ones in the league.
The Hawks’ fall in the rankings coincides with their fall in standings. Losers of eight in a row, they haven’t even been within one goal of their opponent over the last five defeats. And they also fell behind the Phoenix Coyotes, who beat the Hawks 3-0 on Saturday, in the rankings.
As for the other Central Division teams, they’re separating themselves from Chicago. Tuesday’s opponent -- Nashville -- ranks No. 6, St. Louis is No. 4 and Detroit checks in at No. 2 again.
If the Predators beat the Hawks on Tuesday, they’ll own three wins over the Hawks during the losing streak, clearly stating their case to stay ahead of Chicago no matter what happens in the near future. Thursday’s game comes against the No. 1 ranked team, the New York Rangers, so it’s possible the Hawks will go to Columbus next Saturday on a 10-game losing skid. They’ll need that win no matter what happens between now and then.