NHL Power Rankings: Week 20

Welcome to a slightly abbreviated version of the Power Rankings. Sadly, I just didn’t have enough time to put together thoughtful analysis of all 30 NHL teams this week. That doesn’t mean that I can’t put a new team on top of the rankings and include all sorts of vintage NHL team logos in this post. You might actually learn a thing or two about the league’s past from this post.

#1 Vancouver Canucks (Last Week #4)
The Canuckleheads once again top the Power Rankings. I’ve really been trying to avoid having the same team up here too often but the problem is that this is a good team. It’s hard to keep a good team down and they’ve gotten the second-most points of any team in the league over the last ten games. What amazes me the most about this team in that they lead the league in goals for. I’ve always considered the Canucks a team that’s never been strong on the attack. Maybe that’s what they’ve been missing for that inevitable Cup run.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning (LW #2)
I’m kind of amazed that the Lightning haven’t been rumoured to be making any moves in the run up to the trade deadline. After Monday’s games, their top scorer was Stamkos at 74 points with St. Louis at 67. The next closest? Teddy Purcell at 36 points. I could be wrong but I think they could probably use some secondary scoring. I know defense wins championships but you can’t win a game when the key to shutting your team’s offense is shadowing one man.

#3 Philadelphia Flyers (LW #1)
How desperate are the Flyers? They’ve traded for a Leaf. Well, Kris Versteeg wasn’t in Toronto long enough to be loved by the fans. Moved in and out of Toronto so fast that I’m not sure that the paint on his recently vandalized car had time to dry. But thanks to Mike Fisher (more on that later), the Leafs were able to extract a first and third round pick from the Flyers for a second-line winger. At least Burke has himself a first round pick. If he can trade Kessel, he almost certainly get two first-rounders for him this year.

#4 Anaheim Ducks (LW #8)
Okay, I was wrong. Jackie wasn’t as big a fan of the Beauchemin trade as I thought he’d be. So to make up for it, I’ve moved the Ducks into the top five in the Power Rankings. Actually, the Ducks deserve to be in the top five based on their play of late. They’re among the top teams in the league over the last month or so. Hell, they’ve even found themselves tied for the Pacific Division lead with Dallas. They’re actually living up to Jackie’s expectations this year.

#5 Detroit Red Wings (LW #9)
And for the second week running, my Wings tail both Scott’s Flyers and Jackie’s Ducks in the Power Rankings. I attribute that entirely to the ratings from this past Sunday’s game against the Bruins. I saw on Twitter that Bruins/Red Wings was the lowest rated game on NBC this season. I have no idea how two Original Six teams that are contending teams could do so badly with viewers, though. Unfortunately for us, that means more Pittsburgh on NBC.

#6 San Jose Sharks (LW #7)
Let’s go for a brief non-hockey aside early on today. I briefly caught on a US Cellular commercial during a Family Guy rerun that there was an Android-powered phone that had a “swipe-capable keyboard.” Basically, what that means is that you can type on the touch screen without lifting your finger and the phone will figure out what you’re trying to type. How pathetic is it that phones are allowing people to be so lazy that they don’t have to lift their fingers anymore. I think we should just restart American society from scratch to lower the number of lazy SOBs.

#7 Boston Bruins (LW #5)
A couple of tweets and now everyone is pitching their ideas for Kaberle trades to Boston. I’ve read Kaberle and the Flyers’ 1st round pick to Boston for Toronto’s 2011 1st rounder. I’ve read Kaberle and Tyler Bozak to Boston for David Krejci and a conditional pick… Actually, after the Versteeg trade, that one actually makes sense. It looks like that Peter Chiarelli should be able to easily hose Toronto once again. After all, Kaberle will only waive hit NTC for Boston and trading Kaberle to Boston is the only way to guarantee any return before he goes to free agency.

#8 Pittsburgh Penguins (LW #3)
Mario Lemieux needs to look in the mirror before starting to complain about the league’s lack of discipline against the Islanders for last Friday’s brawl. First, it’s come out that Mario doesn’t go to the NHL’s governors meetings. If he felt strongly about supplementary discipline rules, he’d show up at these meetings to lobby for rule changes. Second, he employs Matt Cooke. He can’t complain about players not getting punished enough or dangerous players when he employs Matt Cooke who is the worst player for both of those in the NHL. Is Mario a hypocrite for complaining about the Isles’ punishment? No but he’s damn close.

#9 Phoenix Coyotes (LW #17)
I’m sure that Winnipeg fans will love this. After all, 15 years in the desert has been a complete and utter failure. I probably should make the switch to the Jets logo a permanent thing for the Coyotes. Actually, I should put it to a vote whether I put a Jets, Nordiques or a Hamilton Tiger-Cats logo here in the Phoenix spot. It would be even more taunting toward the five fan in Glendale than the waffle logo I’ve been using for the Leafs.

#10 Montreal Canadiens (LW #6)
The Habs may not be as hot as the Flames going into this weekend’s Heritage Classic but Jose Theodore taught us how to win an outdoor game. No, quality goaltending is not a necessity for the win. No, the goalie has to wear a toque for the game over his mask. It’s most likely that Theodore was able to distract the opposition with his odd headwear. Actually, it’s almost sad to think that Theodore actually won the Hart Trophy as league MVP but no one will remember that because they only associate him w/ the toque.

#11 Calgary Flames (LW #10)
I’ll admit that I have no good reason to rank the Flames lower than they were last week. However, I couldn’t put them ahead of the Habs ahead of the Heritage Classic. Montreal has a good record in these outdoor games. They’ve already won one in Alberta against Edmonton in 2003. I figure if you can survive a game in Edmonton (albeit one that was almost 8 years ago), the Calgary should be comparatively easy. Still, the Flames are hot right now and have a very real chance of toppling the Habs. It’s too bad that outdoor games seem to not favour the home team.

#12 Nashville Predators (LW #11)
Remember Mickey’s line from Rocky that was along the lines of “Women weaken legs.” That would likely explain why Mike Fisher is having such a bad season by the standards of forwards who have a $4.25 million cap hit. And I think that Dave Pollie has just made things worse by bringing Fisher to Nashville. Carrie Fisher (AKA Underwood) would be the culprit here per Burgess Meredith’s logic. And now they’re predictably back together again in Nashville. The Preds basically gave away that first round pick for nothing.

#13 Los Angeles Kings (LW #14)
Finally… The Rock HAS COME BACK TO MONDAY NIGHT RAW! I love that line. Anyway, I’ll talk about The Great One’s mic work in a paragraph but for now, let’s talk the money side of this deal. I don’t know how much Vince is paying Dwayne for this or if these appearances on Raw as WrestleMania host will hurt The Rock’s movie career but it’s a good move for all involved. Raw has a jump of over 1 million viewers in the segment with The Rock to 5 million viewers. And WWE can expect that many people watching every time The Rock shows up. That’s also 5 million dedicated Rock fans which is good news for him in Hollywood. It’s a win-win for all involved.

#14 Minnesota Wild (LW #16)
It’s worth mentioning that The Rock wasn’t at the top of his game when working the mic on this past Monday’s Raw. However, from what I’ve seen reviewing WWE pay-per-views, he’s far better at working the mic than anyone currently in the WWE. His promo was more heartfelt than I ever remember a Rock promo being in the past. It was almost as stinging as his usual work in the Attitude Era with a bit bleeping than I remember. Even at 50%, The Rock is over 100% better than every other man in the WWE. I might even start watching Raw regularly again with The Rock.

#15 Washington Capitals (LW #13)
Your weird 2010-11 season fact: After the weekend’s games, the Capitals were tied for 20th in the league in goals for with 151 goals. That put them level with the New York Islanders. It’s amazing to think that the Caps are behind about two-thirds of the league in goal scoring only a season after they topped the next closest team by 46 goals in 2009-10. The thing is that there’s no real reason why this is happening. The same core of players is there. Ovi’s cold streak is just that. It’s not like he’s played all season with his shoulder out of its socket. It’s one of those unexplainable things in the new NHL.

#16 Dallas Stars (LW #12)
From Wikipedia: The team was founded during the 1967 NHL expansion as the Minnesota North Stars, based in Bloomington, Minnesota. The franchise relocated to Dallas for the 1993–94 NHL season. The Stars have won seven division titles in Dallas, two President’s Trophies as the top regular season team in the NHL, the Western Conference championship twice, and in 1998–99, the Stanley Cup. Joe Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs that year.

#17 New Jersey Devils (LW #22)
After the first three months of the season, I don’t think anyone would have thought they’d be saying that the Devils are the hottest team in the NHL. Hell, these guys might just play their way out of contention for a shot at the #1 pick. That’s probably the last thing this team needs but 2011 is supposed to be a reasonably deep draft. And good for Jacques Lemaire. He comes out of retirement to show that he’s still got it. Out of all the years he’s been coaching, I think this year with this Devils team cements his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

#18 Columbus Blue Jackets (LW #19)
My alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, had their annual University Students’ Council election yesterday. I don’t know who the guy is that won but I can synthesize that he, and the two other candidates, should not have received one vote. University student union presidential elections at Western have descended into solely popularity contests since one unqualified presidential candidate won based on a YouTube video. Every candidate since then has spent more time working on their campaign videos than their platform and Western has suffered as a result.

#19 Buffalo Sabres (LW #21)
The move to everything retro or pseudo-retro in the NHL has benefited the Sabres more than any other franchise. I know the black jersey was a big thing in the mid-90s but it was never right for Buffalo. I don’t think the steaming buffalo head in red and black was the right look for the Sabres but it was plenty unique in the NHL. I think they made the right move by going back to blue and gold while dropping the short-lived Sabres slug logo.

#20 Chicago Blackhawks (LW #15)
Fun spelling bee fact of the day: Until 1986, the Blackhawks were actually known as the Black Hawks. It sounds the same but it spelled differently. It turns out that someone found Chicago’s original contract with the NHL during the 1985-86 season and found that the contract listed the team as the “Blackhawks” instead of “Black Hawks” as it had been spelled for the previous 60 years. Who would have thought that a team would change identities thanks to a legal technicality instead of marketing?

#21 Carolina Hurricanes (LW #20)
From Wikipedia: The team was formed in 1971 as the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association, and moved into the NHL in 1979 as the Hartford Whalers, relocating to North Carolina in 1997. They won their first Stanley Cup during the 2005–06 season, beating the Edmonton Oilers four games to three. They are the only major professional sports team to play in Raleigh; North Carolina’s other two major franchises, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, are located in Charlotte.

#22 New York Rangers (LW #18)
Not only did the Rangers win the Stanley Cup win a Stanley Cup in their second year as an NHL franchise but they were the first American-based NHL team to win a Cup. They won the Cup in 1928 in a best-of-five series over the Montreal Maroons by a margin of three-to-two. And to think that for all their early success, they went 54 years between their third and fourth Cups (from 1940 to 1994).

#23 New York Islanders (LW #26)
I’m very disappointed that using vintage logos means that I can’t use the classic, but not original, fish stick man logo that the Islanders used in the mid-90s. In terms of all-time team logo failures, that would have to be near the top of the list in every sport. The fish stick man is basically a microcosm of all that is wrong with the Isles under Charles Wang. The team tries harder to be a league-wide joke than be a proper contending team.

#24 St. Louis Blues (LW #27)
The Blues have dropped a long way since the start of their franchise in 1967. They were originally the powerhouse team in the Western Conference. They made the Stanley Cup finals in the first three season after expansion. However, they were swept by the Habs in 1968 & 1969 and then the Bruins in 1970. After a franchise start like that, no wonder long-time fans would consider it all downhill since then.

#25 Atlanta Thrashers (LW #25)
I’ve been conned into working on a new side project thanks to a couple of co-workers. If you’ve seen my taste in other websites in our recurring best of the interweb series of posts, you might have an idea of what I’m up to. For once, I’m going solely for pageviews… Okay, that’s what I always do. But this new project is a sort of FML-like website. Mostly reader generated comments but I’m sure that I can come up with some myself. We’re still building the site but you can check it out at http://kmenow.com.

#26 Toronto Maple Leafs (LW #28)
Who’s the happiest person in the world about that Fisher trade? Well, aside from Fisher himself because now he gets more time with Carrie. That would be Brian Burke. He traded two first round picks for a guy that was a first-line winger when he traded for him. Fisher, right now, is, at best, a third-line centre. There’s no way that Fisher is worth half of Kessel’s trade value. Kessel is younger and has more offensive upside. I don’t think we can mock Burkey as much about the Kessel trade.

#27 Florida Panthers (LW #24)
Yeah… I’ve got nothing for the Panthers. I can’t even talk about the change in logo because they haven’t really changed logos since the franchise started up. While hockey in the tropics hasn’t been a wild success, apart from the two Cup finals runs out of Tampa and Florida, at least it’s gone over better than hockey in the desert. Granted, that’s not a big accomplishment in the slightest.

#28 Colorado Avalanche (LW #23)
Peter Forsberg, we hardly knew ye. Well, at least this time around. One of the all time great Swedish forwards announced that he was retiring after his comeback lasted all of two games. For the record, his season stat line was 0 G, 0 A, -4 and 4 PIM. That’s actually not too bad for a guy who really hasn’t played at this level since 2008 and hasn’t played even half a season since 2005-06. But we all sorta knew this wasn’t going to go well for Colorado and Foppa, didn’t we.

#29 Edmonton Oilers (LW #29)
What does it say about a team when they lose to Ottawa? That’s how pathetic the Oilers are. And, once again, I’ve run out of insightful things to say about Edmonton. How long have they been rebuilding? I’d say since 2006 when they last made the playoffs. It’s an amazing irony that a team could go from Cup finalist to completely hopeless in one summer. Well, maybe their fifth rebuild draft is the charm.

#30 Ottawa Senators (LW #30)
What does it say it’s a major sports news story when they win a game? That’s how pathetic the Senators are. See what I did there? Same as the Oilers blurb. You know why? Both teams are shit. At least Ottawa is dedicated to sucking and rebuilding with draft picks. They just traded Mike Fisher for a first-round pick. If you’re Nashville that trade makes no sense. A first for a second-line centre. Hell, Fisher isn’t even playing better than a third-line centre this season. Man, did Bryan Murray get away with highway robbery here or what?

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