The Red Wings drafted Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov in 1989-90 and struggled, failing to make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The next season, they made it. It was their first of 21 consecutive playoff berths, the longest streak in the major professional sports in North America.

That long line of success is at greater risk now than at any time in more than two decades. Entering Monday's action, with several contenders playing including some late on the West Coast and with six games left in the regular season, the Red Wings were in eighth place in the West.

They remained two points ahead of the ninth-place Stars, who lost to the Blackhawks, 5-2. But Detroit knows Dallas had a game in hand, as well as the first tiebreaker, the sum of wins in regulation and overtime (ROW), in their favor.

The way affairs are evolving, the Red Wings must beat the Stars by points in the standings to make the playoffs. Tying them is unlikely to be enough.

Or, they must catch the Wild or Blues, who both have one game in hand and easier remaining schedules.

But, the Wild plays four of six against unlikely playoff contestants, the Flames, Oilers and Avalanche.

And, the Blues play six of seven at home.