NHL Power Rankings: Week 23

For the first time in a while, there’s a new team to top the Power Rankings. I don’t just mean that Detroit has fallen off the top of the rankings but this week’s #1 gets their first #1 ranking of the season. Unfortunately, I was very busy this week so I didn’t get around to stories about all 30 teams. They’re ranked but not necessarily analyzed. I’ll try to do better next week.

#1 Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week #3)
The Blackhawks are peaking at the right time. They’ve just seen their eight-game winning streak snapped but going 16 for their last 20 points is a good run for any team. With only 15 games left in the season, they needed this run considering that they stumbled out of the gate. Even with so many new players compared to last year’s roster, they could be set for another Cup run.

#2 San Jose Sharks (LW #2)
I’ve been wondering where the Sharks have been for most of the year. It took them long enough but they’ve finally found their way to the top of the Pacific Division. The only question really remaining for San Jose is if Antii Niemi can help the team overcome its uncanny ability to choke during the playoffs. The Sharks are a team that manages to beat themselves every April and May. Maybe with a Stanley Cup ring in the locker room, they might stop beating themselves up.

#3 Washington Capitals (LW #10)
I think I know why the Captials have turned the season around right now. It’s because Ovechkin is getting back to vintage Ovi being Ovi behaviour. He’s on Twitter again and having a good time. I’m a proponent of the mental aspect of sports being considered as important as the physical aspect. Ovi is starting to relax and his Twitter account shows it. If he keeps the edge off, the Caps are going to steamroll into the playoffs.

#4 Boston Bruins (LW #7)
So it will be no suspension for big Zdeno Chara. I’m not entirely convinced that it would’ve been deserved anyway. There’s no doubt that it was a massive and dangerous hit. It’s almost like punishing Chara for the setup of the playing surface rather than what he did. If Pacioretty was run into the ref and got hurt, would anyone be upset? The ref is just as much a part of the rink as the stanchion. The difference between my scenario and reality is that Pacioretty hit a stanchion. Can’t be mad at one and not the other.

#5 Vancouver Canucks (LW #5)
Can we just hand them the Presidents’ Trophy now? I hate long waits. They’re seven points up on Philly right now. If you factor in the Flyers’s two games in hand at their current winning percentage, that’s a four point gap. Philly can easily get more than two more wins than Van-city over their last 14 games but the Canuckleheads are going to want to finish strong this year… That way they can do be the 7th Presidents’ Trophy winner in the last eight seasons to not win the Cup.

#6 Detroit Red Wings (LW #1)
Good news for Canadian travellers/shoppers heading to the United States: The loonie hit a three-year high against the US dollar yesterday. The loonie reached the benchmark on Wednesday morning at $1.0335 USD. With the banks skimming a little bit off the exchange, it’ll be pretty close to par to be realistic. However, if you’re a cheap bastard, this is good for you because shit is cheaper in the US more often than not and it’ll just be better with exchange factored in. And travel here will dry up. Why would Americans come here when it’s cheaper to stay home.

#7 Philadelphia Flyers (LW #4)
Newt Gingrich is planning on running for president in 2012. (You can tell how desperate the Republicans are for a legitimate contender when they’re disinterring Gingrich.) He might want to shut his mouth until he gets some better PR people, though. In a recent interview, he said that his past adultery was “partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country.” That’ll be a good campaign slogan, though. Newt Gingrich: America Gives Him A Semi.

#8 Calgary Flames (LW #11)
That makes me wonder what slightly eroticized campaign slogans Prime Minister Harper would use if he wouldn’t be a greater laughing-stock. Stephen Harper: Good Things Come In Small Taxes? Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Who would’ve thought that intelligent dick jokes would be so hard? (That’s what she said! Am I right?) Anyway, I like the Flames to take 5th in the West.

#9 Montreal Canadiens (LW #16)
Back to Max Pacioretty, reports indicate he suffered a concussion and a fractured vertebra as a result of hitting the stanchion. I think he should start re-evaluating rink designs like the one at the Bell Centre. Most other rinks have stanchions that have more give between the benches. But the question is why we still need those between the benches. Keep the separation between the benches but lose the glass. Maybe add a fifth official to keep order at the benches. Besides, the possibility of a between the benches brawl would increase hockey’s US mainstream appeal.

#10 Pittsburgh Penguins (LW #12)
So it turns out that concussions are a problem for the whole Crosby family. Sidney’s 14-year-old sister Taylor (who, ironically, has a more manly name than her more famous brother) suffered a concussion during practice at her Minnesota prep school. There’s no definitive proof of this but maybe certain families are more predisposed to concussions and head injuries than others. If having twins are a genetic trait, why couldn’t concussions be one too.

#11 Dallas Stars (LW #20)
Looks who’s moved up a bit in the PR this week. Dallas hasn’t had anything more than an average week but getting Brad Richards back and playing 0.500% hockey is all you need to up your stock this week. At least they’re still in the playoff picture. However, when 4th through 11th is separated by all of 5 points, it won’t take much to leave you in or out of the post-season.

#12 Tampa Bay Lightning (LW #8)

#13 Phoenix Coyotes (LW #6)
Can we just say that Phoenix is a colossal failure and move the Coyotes back to Winnipeg. They’re the only city, apart from maybe Kansas City, that has an arena that would be suitable for an NHL franchise. Sure, if Milwaukee had a 18,000 seat hockey rink, I’d say give that a go but we don’t know if they have a willing owner. All the pieces are in place in Winnipeg. It’s probably not a matter of if but where the Coyotes go.

#14 Los Angeles Kings (LW #9)
The oddest NHL video I’ve seen for a while was the video of the official University of Southern California quidditch team doing battle with NHL mascots on ice in a game of quidditch. What happened looked more like a game of dodgeball meets football with a target throwing element. If anything, the NHL’s mascots proved how ridiculous the sport is and killed one competitor in the niche sports marketplace.

#15 Buffalo Sabres (LW #18)

#16 Carolina Hurricanes (LW #21)
March Madness tips off next week. I’m in my office pool but the only problem is that I don’t have a damn clue what to do except go with Duke, UNC and Michigan State. But I do have some wisdom to pass along. Don’t pick schools called State that aren’t real states. And take at least one 12 to 14 seed that’s called Saint something. Hopefully these tips will power to no worse than 2nd-last… Yeah, I’m screwed.

#17 New Jersey Devils (LW #17)
The Sharks have replaced the Devils as the NHL’s hottest team over the last ten games. That’s not to say that the Devils still aren’t the hottest team in the league. But, like last week, the Devils are in 17th in the Power Rankings because it’s unlikely that they’re going to make the playoffs. They’re eight points back on Buffalo with 16 games to go. That’s four more wins than the Sabres over that stretch. That’ll be a big ask.

#18 Minnesota Wild (LW #14)

#19 Anaheim Ducks (LW #13)
The hot NBA rumour is that the Ducks will have somebody besides the UFC sharing dates at the Honda Center. The new rumour is that the Sacramento Kings will move to Anaheim and start play as the Anaheim Somethings come October. The ice is bad enough at the Honda Center because of the hot weather. Imagine adding a basketball floor and the associated accoutrement on top of that. Don’t envy the Ducks next season.

#20 New York Rangers (LW #23)
The Rangers have more points than the Sabres, Canes and Devils. So why do I have them below all three? Because I think that all three are better teams right now. I actually believe that the Sabres and Hurricanes will have more points than NYR by the end of the regular season. I’m just not buying anything that the Rangers are selling. Adding Bryan McCabe doesn’t make any team better, even if they only have him for five weeks.

#21 Columbus Blue Jackets (LW #15)

#22 Nashville Predators (LW #19)
I want to say that it was Logan Couture that tweeted that everyone was asking him if the Sharks were playing Carrie Underwood’s husband’s team on a given night. That shows that WAGs do rule the sporting world. The wives and girlfriends seem to be just as important to improving the mainstream appeal of a sport as the product that is put on the ice/field/park. In other words, Mike Comrie needs to get back on the ice ASAP.

#23 Edmonton Oilers (LW #28)

#24 Toronto Maple Leafs (LW #25)
Most of the reason that I’ve fallen behind on this edition of the Power Rankings is because I was in Toronto last weekend for some training. Being drunk when not in class limits one’s ability to best make jokes about the state of various NHL franchises and other assorted interesting things happening in the world. What ever are we to do when I have to go back down at the end of the month?

#25 St. Louis Blues (LW #24)
So the whole “hot for teacher” thing has been taken to a whole new level in the proud state of Missouri. We’re used to hearing stories of teachers losing their jobs because they’re fucking students. One St. Louis teacher lost her job but wasn’t doing anything with students. She used to be a porn star and her identity was discovered by students. I’ve not been in that situation but I don’t think I’d really complain.

#26 New York Islanders (LW #22)

#27 Ottawa Senators (LW #27)
Next Thursday, members of the adult entertainment industry (better known as porn stars) will be protesting the proposed move of all porn websites to a .xxx domain address. They say that moving to .xxx will hurt business and encourage internet service providers to censor all .xxx domains. The real idiocy of this is that if you hit Ctrl+Enter in an IE, Firefox or Chrome browser, you get “www.” and “.com” added to either side of what you’ve typed in. That’ll slow down surfing to porn sites. Won’t somebody think of the single guys?

#28 Atlanta Thrashers (LW #29)
With Phoenix almost certain to be on their way out of town, what will become of the Thrashers? We know it’s another suffering franchise but they aren’t nearly as widely speculated about as the Coyotes. With Quebec City building a new rink, will the NHL just wait out QC’s arena construction before moving a team? That would be the logical course of action but since when did Bettman follow any sort of logic.

#29 Florida Panthers (LW #26)
So… LeBron James cries like a little bitch when he loses. I’ll admit that we don’t have any proof but by Jason Whitlock’s process of elimination, it looks like LeBron was crying after the Heat’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. If you’re the supposed chosen one, you can’t let your lady feelings get in the way of getting the job done. If LeBron can’t man up after a regular season loss, do you actually think he’ll grow some balls in the playoffs.

#30 Colorado Avalanche (LW #30)
They’re still in last place in the Power Rankings and a pushing hard to finish last in the league. From third-last to the playoffs and back to dead-last is not a good run for the Avs. On the plus side, nobody in Denver has noticed what’s going wrong because they’ve all been focusing on Melo’s drama. Yes, I had to do another play on words there. It’s what I do.

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