This week, streaks are the theme as Detroit sports brought us several new milestones and important events. First and foremost, the Detroit Red Wings returned home to tie history, notching three thrilling victories and tying an NHL record with 20 consecutive home wins. On Saturday, Michigan State went to Ohio State and knocked off the Buckeyes at home, breaking their 39 game home winning streak. Michigan basketball defeated Illinois to remain untouched at the Crisler Center since a loss last season to Wisconsin. Ferris State, a new entrant to the power rankings, last lost a hockey game during regulation in December. It’s fair to say that this is as loaded as the standings have ever been as far as winning is concerned, making for a crowded grouping of teams who could all make a case for the top spot.
Regardless. the Red Wings haven’t given any ground to the field lately, and they remain the top team for the week of February 7-14.
1. Detroit Red Wings. It’s worth mentioning once more: despite all the noise generated by the home winning streak, people across the country seem to forget the Red Wings are quietly looking like the best team in hockey once again. Consider the fact that last week, they won games in every single possible way. Against Edmonton, they won ugly. Two days later against Anaheim, they won in a shootout. Sunday night, they outslugged the tough Philadelphia Flyers. This group has a knack for adapting to other team’s styles and beating them with it. They’ve also overcome adversity well, as the transition from Jimmy Howard to Joey MacDonald has been largely seamless in the wake of Howard’s injury. MacDonald has gone 3-1 in his absence, making several key saves along the way. No signs of cracking for a top team in the NHL, so they retain the top spot in our rankings once more.
2. Michigan State basketball. Tom Izzo can still coach a little bit, huh? Last week, Michigan State pounded Penn State to give their Saturday matchup with Ohio State some added spice. Then, with many pundits (myself included) doubting them, the team simply went down to Value City Arena and shut down the Buckeyes from start to finish, earning an impressive 58-48 win. The Spartan defense has remained tenacious, and offense has become a bit easier to come by for key contributors like Keith Appling and Adreian Payne. Michigan State is now firmly in the discussion for the Big Ten title and a possible top three seed in the NCAA tournament, and it should come as no surprise despite the team’s overall youth. They’re pulling ever closer to the Red Wings, but still remain second overall.
3. Michigan basketball. The Wolverines continue their roll on the hardwood as well, as they netted a few big wins to push back into the thick of things in a wide open Big Ten race. Early last week, they dominated Nebraska on the road getting a big performance from Zack Novak. Then on Sunday, Michigan extended a home winning streak of their own by likely pounding Illinois squarely off the tournament bubble. Michigan has a huge weekend tilt with Ohio State upcoming, and can add to the Buckeye pain with a home victory over their rivals. Don’t look now, but Michigan sits at a solid 9-4 in the conference, snugly one game back of Michigan State and Ohio State. The Wolverines could turn the Big Ten race upside down once more with a win next weekend.
4. Michigan hockey. Following a big weekend of hockey, the Wolverines remain on top of the Spartans, but barely. Michigan State threw everything they had at Michigan this weekend, and ended up with a home victory. On Saturday night, Michigan escaped the Spartans in overtime with a late victory, assuring they would remain ahead by three points in the CCHA standings. Michigan’s path to making a run is still far easier than the Spartans’ path, with bottom dwelling Bowling Green on the schedule and Northern Michigan coming to Yost Ice Arena next weekend.
5. Ferris State hockey. It’s time to move the Spartans down despite their nice showing and give the first place Bulldogs some love. They remained hot this weekend in sweeping Notre Dame, giving them a comfy five point cushion over Western Michigan in the CCHA standings, which had become quite a toss up in recent weeks. They’ve gotten solid play from their goaltender Taylor Nelson and Jordie Johnson continues to rate highly within league scoring. Going by current standings alone, Ferris State gives the state of Michigan their most legitimate chance to advance deeply within the NCAA hockey tournament. A key series with Western Michigan remains in the final week of the season.