I warned you that I was going to do a gimmick edition of Power Rankings right before Christmas. This week, I look at the NHL’s Christmas wish lists. Every team wants something for Christmas but most deserve something completely different. We also have a new team on top of the rankings followed closely by their state rival. And a division rival of our top two teams finds its way back to last place.
#1 Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week #4)
What They Want: Respect – They’re on top of the league in the team but everyone considers them a team of thugs instead of the leagues best offensive squad.
What They Deserve: Steel Folding Chairs – Philly is the home of ECW. The fans booed Santa Claus. This is a rough and tumble blue-collar town. These boys should take the black hat and wear it proudly as the NHL’s villain.
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins (LW #1)
What They Want: A Stanley Cup – If you ring off a 12-game winning streak in the middle of the season while Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin are injured, you’re going to have visions of Cup wins dancing in your heads.
What They Deserve: To Lose The Winter Classic – They ruined Buffalo’s Winter Classic experience by sending the Sabres’ fans home upset. Turnabout is fair play.
#3 Vancouver Canucks (LW #8)
What They Want: A Stanley Cup – With the Blackhawks’ salary cap initiated disassembly, the Canuckleheads figured they were destined to make the Cup Final this season because they could beat the Hawks in the playoffs this year. They forgot, though, that eight teams make the Western Conference playoffs.
What They Deserve: To Be Eliminated By The Blackhawks – Just for the sake of irony, the Hawks must make the playoffs and break Canucklehead hearts.
#4 Detroit Red Wings (LW #2)
What They Want: Some Credit – They’re on top of the Western Conference but it’s all about Crosby and Ovechkin. Lidstrom is well on his way to another Norris Trophy in what’s likely to be his final season. Where are his kudos?
What They Deserve: A Stanley Cup – If you’re bitching because I think my team deserves a Stanley Cup, then you’re probably a Leafs fan. Give me one good reason why this lot shouldn’t be considered worthy of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
#5 Dallas Stars (LW #3)
What They Want: Snow In Texas – Remember that Leon Lett field goal gaffe? It was in the snow in Texas. A little snow would go a ways to help folks remember that people play hockey in Dallas.
What They Deserve: New Ownership – Liverpool and Texas Rangers fans are happier without Tom Hicks owning the team. Hicks’ company defaulted on nearly half-a-billion loans that had the Rangers and Stars as security. The Rangers got new owners that brought them to the World Series. New owners probably won’t see the same instant success with the Stars but it would be a step in the right direction.
#6 Colorado Avalanche (LW #16)
What They Want: A Healthy Team – It seems as though the Avs have to fight through one major injury every season that prevents them from reaching their potential. It’s never an AHL-calibre guy that gets hurt, is it?
What They Deserve: A Playoff Spot – Only a 7th or 8th place finish, though. Let’s get them against the Wings in the first round and renew the rivalry.
#7 Atlanta Thrashers (LW #6)
What They Want: Fans – They aren’t doing Islanders or Coyotes numbers at the gate but the league’s biggest surprise deserves to sell out every game.
What They Deserve: A Division Title – They traded Kovi. Their goalie fainted in Game 1. Somehow they’re still Top 10 in the league. They deserve a reward for the hard work they’ve put in this year.
#8 Nashville Predators (LW #17)
What They Want: A Giant Barry Trotz Statue – This is Barry Trotz’s team. He is one of the top five coaches in the NHL as evidenced by the fact he’s constantly getting something out of this team of nothings. If the owner was smart, he’d include a share of the team’s equity in Trotz’s next contract.
What They Deserve: A Playoff Round Win – The Preds have been to the playoffs five times, have a total of eight wins and have yet to win a playoff series. They’re due to make the post-season and win a series by now.
#9 Tampa Bay Lightning (LW #11)
What They Want: An Art Ross Trophy For Stamkos – The kid’s been on fire for the last season and a half. He already has a Richard Trophy so an upgrade to a scoring title would be good for the former #1 pick.
What They Deserve: A Hart Trophy For Stamkos – Where would they be without him? Sure, Marty is a great setup man but is there a better finisher in the league than Stamkos right now?
#10 New York Rangers (LW #5)
What They Want: Sean Avery’s Sloppy Seconds – Yeah, I had to do that. Not that any of his teammates would mind getting his sloppy seconds. They include Elisha Cuthbert, Rachel Hunter and so on and so forth.
What They Deserve: Sean Avery Getting His Ass Kicked – James Wisniewski suggested that Avery should perform oral sex on another man earlier this season and got suspended for it. He should have gotten a $1 million bonus. So should anyone that lays a beating on Avery. He deserves what’s coming to him.
#11 Montreal Canadiens (LW #10)
What They Want: A Star Player – They haven’t been a consistent threat to win the Cup since the 70s. Their biggest problem is that they have no offence. They didn’t need scoring with Roy in goal but he ain’t there anymore. The draft crew hasn’t figured that out yet.
What They Deserve: A National TV Deal – The Leafs are constantly on Canadian TV but the Habs are a regional team most of the time. Growing up, adults were either Leafs or Habs fans. Now the CBC made everyone Leafs fans. Fathers, don’t raise your kids to love losers… Unless said losers are bloggers.
#12 San Jose Sharks (LW #14)
What They Want: A Long Playoff Run – They have a well-earned reputation as a regular season team. Even though they made the conference finals last year, nobody cares because they were mercilessly swept by the Hawks. They need to make a Cup Final to earn respect.
What They Deserve: A Division Title – Why? To shatter fans dreams once again. Another great regular season followed immediately by another utterly shit finish to the season.
#13 Washington Capitals (LW #9)
What They Want: Some Wins – They’ve been struggling as of late. The fact that they’re on HBO’s 24/7 doesn’t make things any better on the struggling team.
What They Deserve: Soap for Bruce Boudreau’s mouth – His language was on 24/7 so profane that it made sailors blush. It was an impressive display that put even Rex Ryan to shame. Now let’s go get a goddamn snack.
#14 Chicago Blackhawks (LW #13)
What They Want: Cap Space – No shit, eh? Their lack of long-term cap management really fucked them this season. They’re not horrible this year but they won’t be contending for a Cup, either.
What They Deserve: This Mess – Being a Wings fan, I have no sympathy for the plight the Hawks have gotten themselves in. They’re going to have fun dressing 20 guys with Kane, Towes, Hossa, Campbell and Keith’s contracts. And don’t forget that Seabrook and Crawford are RFAs at season’s end.
#15 Anaheim Ducks (LW #15)
What They Want: Goaltending – Jonas Hiller sure ain’t the second coming of JS Giguere. The Ducks are bottom five in the league in goals against. They used to be good at keeping the puck out of the net. Hasn’t been the cast since Burke left.
What They Deserve: New Jerseys – Let’s face it, the black, white and beige jerseys are very bland. Throw more orange in the jerseys and add some green in there to make the jerseys look more duckish. See Mighty Ducks, The, as a reference point.
#16 Boston Bruins (LW #7)
What They Want: Scoring – Alright, their offense isn’t as anaemic as last year but it’s still a goalie first team. As Tim Thomas rises and falls, so do the Bruins.
What They Deserve: Top Six Forward Rental For A 2nd Rounder – Really, they’re in a good position right now. Trade for a rental forward at the deadline and go for the Cup. They even have the Leafs 1st rounder so it’s not like they need to worry about the future either. Deal with the now.
#17 Phoenix Coyotes (LW #12)
What They Want: Fans – They don’t have any. You’ll probably hear that a fair bit today. But the Yotes have as many arena staff and players’ families at the games as paying fans. Man, Glendale screwed itself badly by letting the team stay.
What They Deserve: To Go Back To Winnipeg – Hockey in the desert is a failure. This new owner isn’t going to change that. Send them back to the ‘Peg just to fuck Bettman over.
#18 Los Angeles Kings (LW #18)
What They Want: A-List Celebrity Fans – The Lakers get Jack, Leo and dozens of other famous faces at their home games. Who do the Kings get at their games? CW stars?
What They Deserve: C-List Celebrity Fans – At the start of the season, they could have gotten Gretzky era celeb fans. They’ve pretty much got what they deserve right now.
#19 Carolina Hurricanes (LW #22)
What They Want: More Than One All-Star – They are hosting the All-Star Game after all. With just 42 random guys in the game, there’s no guarantee they’ll get more than one man in the game. Not that they deserve more…
What They Deserve: A Whaler Fan Sit-In – Why not? Jets fans at Coyotes games. Nordiques fans a Isles games. Let’s have fans of the Whale drop in on a Canes game. Most folks in the Carolinas don’t know what ice is anyway.
#20 Minnesota Wild (LW #23)
What They Want: Scoring – They’re bottom five in the league in scoring. Nik Backstrom (the Finnish one) might be good but he’s not going to make this team a contender. And what’s with Miko Koivu getting paid $6.7 million. He wouldn’t be worth half of that if his brother’s name wasn’t Saku.
What They Deserve: A New Nickname – “Wild” is an absolute shit nickname for a professional sports franchise. I know they couldn’t use “North Stars” but they could have tried something less boring. For example, they could have been the “Lakers” like the old NBA franchise. Hell, even the “Mall Loiterers” would have been a better name for the people of Minnesota.
#21 St. Louis Blues (LW #19)
What They Want: Jaro Halak (2010 Playoffs Edition) – For the most part, Halak was the best goalie in the playoffs last year. There were a couple of blips but he was the playoff MVP even though Toews got the trophy.
What They Deserve: A Competent Coach – Jaro had time to rest during the playoffs and got pulled on off nights. He’s getting worn down and thrown to the wolves in St. Louis near as I can figure. Have him split more time with Conklin and you’ll see his form improve.
#22 Florida Panthers (LW #25)
What They Want: Time – A standout junior coach and a rebuilding expert of a GM helm this team. If they get some time together, they can put this team back in the playoffs.
What They Deserve: Picks for Stillman, McCabe and Vokoun – I want them to do well. No ill will towards this lot. They should pull in a couple of 2nds and more for this trio at the deadline.
#23 Buffalo Sabres (LW #21)
What They Want: A Healthy Ryan Miller – He’s had some nagging injuries that have kept him out of the lineup and off peak form this season. He’s consistently one of the leagues best goalies but just doesn’t seem to have that form this year.
What They Deserve: To Keep Some Stars – Aside from Vanek and Miller how many Sabres stars have stayed in Buffalo over the last five or ten years? Unlike the Oilers, at least players will see out their contracts before moving instead of demanding a move one year into a deal.
#24 Edmonton Oilers (LW #24)
What They Want: Love – Nobody wants to go to or stay in Edmonton. Chris Pronger and Sheldon Souray both wanted out very recently. Free agents aren’t going there. Can’t build a winner if players don’t want to go there.
What They Deserve: Gretzky – Even the cover of EA’s NHL Slapshot has The Great One in an Oilers jersey. Maybe they should fire Tom Renney and put Gretzky behind the bench. At the very least, he’ll draw a crowd.
#25 Columbus Blue Jackets (LW #20)
What They Want: A Playoff Spot – They’re 0.500% at home and three games above 0.500% on the road as of writing. Those aren’t bad records but they’re still sitting 4 points outside the playoffs. If their road record is above 0.500%, you have to figure that the home record will come up too.
What They Deserve: Better Scouts – They’ve had 11 draft, 10 top ten picks, nine play in the NHL and only one superstar. You don’t expect them all to be superstars like Rick Nash but you’d like more than one to be a 60-point per season player.
#26 Calgary Flames (LW #27)
What They Want: Cap Space – Amazingly, the Flames don’t have any cap space. Aside from Iginla and Kipper, are there any players worth more than a couple million bucks on this team. Sutter really screwed his team up and there’s not much space to be spent next season.
What They Deserve: The Maple Leafs Roster – They picked up five ex-Leafs last year but are down to two this season (Hagman and Stajan). Those boys need some company so the Flames should fill out the other 18 dressed roster spots with ex-Leafs. It would certainly speed up the inevitable downward spiral.
#27 Ottawa Senators (LW #28)
What They Want: Consistency – One year they’re up, the next they’re down. They just can’t seem to string two good years together since the lockout. Consistency would even be nice if it was a couple of low finishes in a row so management knows what kind of players they have.
What They Deserve: To Lose To The Leafs – Why were the fans booing Heatley? They didn’t want him in the first place. There’s no reason to hate the guy for wanting to go to somewhere that the fans might appreciate them. Losing to the Leafs would be something the fans brought upon themselves.
#28 Toronto Maple Leafs (LW #26)
What They Want: WAFFLES! No, they want a 1st round pick. – Burkie trades two years’ worth of first rounders for Kessel. Who won that deal? That’s right. Gullible, cunning bastard.
What They Deserve: WAFFLES! – Yes, they actually deserve waffles. Hundreds upon hundred of waffles to rain down upon them. It’ll be like the rats at Panthers games in 1996.
#29 New York Islanders (LW #30)
What They Want: Fans – They don’t have any. The ones that are there knit during games. Nobody, not even the local media, care about the team.
What They Deserve: To Be Contracted – The team is a mess. Charles Wang has driven one of the league’s great dynasties into the ground. As long as he’s in charge, it’s a lost cause. Blow the Isles up and start over.
#30 New Jersey Devils (LW #29)
What They Want: Cap Space – They don’t have any thanks to Kovi. Unless the cap jumps a few million next year, there won’t be any room for the Devils to improve let alone hold onto Parise.
What They Deserve: 9th Place in the East – Why so high? It means that they don’t get a good draft pick. They’ll be stuck like the JFJ/Quinn era Leafs. Who wouldn’t love it?