Puck Daddy Power Rankings: blowing leads, Bylsma's future, scoring Stamkos

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: blowing leads, Bylsma's future, scoring Stamkos

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.] 

7. Entourage

Entourage sucks. Please stop talking about Entourage.

6. Having a lead in the Western Conference Final

Man, this has been quite a series. Quite a series. They've played almost two full games of overtime at this point, and these are two teams that clearly do not like each other.

But what makes it the most fun is that teams are blowing leads in it, and in highly entertaining fashion. Chicago was up 3-1 through 47 minutes of Game 4, ended up blowing that lead and trailing 4-3 through 49 minutes (which is insane!) but then took that lead from Anaheim in the 52nd minute before winning in overtime.

Then Chicago staged another comeback in Game 5, clawing out from deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 to force another OT, but then lost after just 45 seconds.

The point is that when you have two offenses as good as these, you really need to build a lead of four goals before you can really start to feel safe (and that's especially true for Anaheim because Frederik Andersen gave up some absolute howlers on Monday night. When Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler are on the two teams' second lines, that's scary stuff.

5. General Manager of the Year

This is an award that's given out annually but which doesn't begin to make sense. The finalists this year are Bob Murray, Glen Sather, and Steve Yzerman. Now, two of these guys seem like decent picks. Murray basically transformed his team into a contender with one trade (bringing the aforementioned Mr. Kesler to Anaheim in exchange for very little), while Steve Yzerman defied draft convention to draft a bunch of small and/or Russian guys that most teams shun and also brought aboard some judicious advanced-stats-centric free agents this summer.

But what, exactly, did Glen Sather do to make his team win a Presidents' Trophy apart from “Draft Henrik Lundqvist more than a decade ago?” The answer is, “Made the rest of his team worse because he maneuvered himself into cap hell with an overly expensive, not-good-enough blue line.”

However, if you're really looking at this rationally, you have to examine how nonsensical a “GM of the Year” is, because no GM was Suddenly Good, and the quality of their work is not always reflected in wins and losses. For instance, Bob Murray won the award last year. Why? Because the Ducks were like the second- or third-best team in the division? Last year's Anaheim team wasn't that good, and was deeply and obviously flawed; and he beat out Dean Lombardi for the award, somehow (and also Marc Bergevin).

The year before that, Ray Shero won it. Ray Shero! He was out of a job less than a year later because his mismanagement of the cap drove the Penguins into the ground. Guess who he beat out: Bergevin and Murray. Are you starting to sense a pattern here?

Before that it was Doug Armstrong beating David Poile and Dale Tallon; combined number of playoff games those three teams won: 12. Because they were all: Not good. In fact, Nashville and St. Louis's PDOs were seventh and eighth in the league, respectively, while Florida used approximately 3,000 overtime games to barely make the playoffs.

The year before that, in 2011, it was Mike Gillis and that's... oh, actually that was a good call because the Canucks were the best team in hockey that year and barely lost to the Bruins in the Cup Final because they ran into a juggernaut goaltender. Other finalists were Yzerman and Poile, because again, there's no real creativity here.

And finally, in 2010, Don Maloney won the inaugural award because he got that Phoenix team into the playoffs, and he was actually deserving as well. The other nominees (Poile and George McPhee) were not so deserving of consideration.

The fact that the average PDO of all the teams whose GMs won the damn thing was 101.5 tells you a lot about the selection process. Luckiest equals best, apparently.

So we haven't had an actual deserving GM win this award in three years. Here's hoping they give it to Yzerman — and boy should they ever — and break the streak.

4. Dan Bylsma

So it seems as though Buffalo, ever the second-place finisher, is going to be getting its second choice for coach as well.

One of the reasons you often hear floated as why they are likely to target Dan Bylsma is that he coached Jack Eichel at Worlds. Which isn't a good reason because that was, what, eight games? Know what Bylsma saw of Eichel in those eight games? The same thing everyone else did: Eichel is good. By this token, Mark Osiecki could be a candidate for Sabres coach because he ran the bench for the US at World Juniors. Or BU coach David Quinn, who coached Eichel for 41 games this year. Or Don Granato, who coached Eichel a bunch for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program a few years back.

The reason to hire Bylsma, though, is that he's a good and proven NHL coach. Makes sense, right?

He always got more blame than he should have in Pittsburgh, because Shero slowly but surely took away any decent depth players the team had, and he also had to navigate lengthy injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while also ballet dancing his way through a mental minefield with Playoffs Marc-Andre Fleury. It was not an ideal situation and he caught the brunt of it even if he should not have necessarily done so.

This Sabres team isn't as far along as the Penguins were when he took over. Not even close, actually. But If he can work with actual young, developing stars and not bred-to-be-a-mega-star-since-he-was-12 kids like Sid Crosby (who was 21 and in his fourth NHL season when Bylsma took over), which he almost certainly can — not that Shero ever gave him a chance to prove it — then he'd almost certainly be the best possible candidate.

Meanwhile, San Jose can freely hire Randy Carlyle. Works out for everyone.

3. Emilio Estevez

Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? The guy who was in the movies about the hockey team 56 years ago had something to say about hockey on Monday. Click here for more!

2. Steven Stamkos

The Tampa Bay captain was basically getting rotten fruit thrown at him every night on national TV for the first two and a half weeks of the postseason, because he went through the first eight games with just three assists and no goals.

Then hey, wouldn't you know it, one of the best players on earth started having the puck actually go in for him. In the 10 games following (not including last night's) he inflated his points total from 0-3-3 in 8 games played to 7-10-17 in 18. That'd be 7-7-14 in his last 10 for those scoring at home. He was held off the scoresheet just once in that 10-game stretch.

So what's different? Would you believe “almost nothing?” Well, that's not entirely true. He started taking more of the shot attempts when his team was on the ice, even if that number didn't change very much. Oh, and his competition got much, much harder to handle. (The “P-” below stands for personal.)


Weird how all of a sudden, even if his line is being pushed around a lot more in terms of possession, a guy who can shoot the puck like Stamkos is scoring more because he's not deferring to his teammates as much. And the Bolts are winning more.

Weird.

1. Momentum

What if..... what if momentum......... and hear me out here, but............ what if momentum..................... isn't a thing?

Oh right, it makes it harder to explain what's going on in the Anaheim/Chicago series. So it's definitely a thing. Good. Love to have momentum.

(Not ranked this week: Gary Bettman.

Had to love all that stuff about CTE this week, and then the guy who came out and said it was “lawyer speak.” First of all, Bettman is obviously and demonstrably wrong about this, in much the same way people who say the science is out on global climate change are obviously and demonstrably wrong.

But to accuse Bettman of saying anything in a lawerly fashion is to ignore that Bettman is of course a lawyer, and that literally everything he says is measured and calculated. The “That Katy Perry Chant Isn't Sexist” thing? Lawyer speak to make it seem like the NHL doesn't have a discrimination problem (it does). The “Fans Don't Want An Official NHL CapGeek Site?” thing? Lawyer speak that actually means the league and its owners and probably even the NHLPA don't want to do it (but they can't just say that).

You might as well accuse Gary Bettman of being Gary Bettman. Is his talk harmful and regressive? Yes. Is it anything less than anyone should have ever expected with the league trying to stare down concussion lawsuits? No.

This is Baseline Gary Bettman. How can you be surprised by this?)

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