[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.]
There is a lot of blame to go around for this recent spate of disastrous results that has them teetering on the brink of elimination.
A lot of people are blaming Patrick Kane, because he's just not producing. Even after being loaded onto the Toews/Bickell line in Game 4, he was only able to pick up his lone assist in the series (which cut the Blackhawks' deficit to 4-2 and didn't matter at all). His nine shots on goal over these four games have come despite ample minutes, and he's further getting beat in possession (48.5 percent).
But he's not the problem.
There's also the matter of how badly the Blackhawks' top pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have gone from dominant force to limping disaster. Keith's possession numbers have dropped to 48.7 percent following the regular-season 56.6 percent. Seabrook's are down to 47.6 percent from 56.8 percent. They've combined for 1-1-2 in the series, and both those points are Keith's. These are small sample sizes from which to cull data, obviously, but even watching the games you can see they're just getting devoured by the Kings' top line every single night. Ugly stuff.
But perhaps the worst of it falls on poor Corey Crawford, who's not doing himself any favors even as he's not getting any help. The Blackhawks really aren't giving up a ton of shots, either; Crawford has faced no more than 32 shots — not a huge number — in this series, but he has nonetheless given up 14 goals, all but one of which have come in the three losses. Over those last three games, which may prove ruinous to the chances for a repeat, Crawford's save percentage at even strength, during which time it's fair to judge him, has been just .873. That's really not good enough.
Oh, but don't worry. His six-year, $36 million contract doesn't kick in until next year.
Thank god that's over.
7. Fakin' it
Derek Stepan got demolished by Brandon Prust over the weekend and as a consequence had his jaw broken. That the broken jaw was only revealed after the game, and that Prust finished said game with little in the way of further incident, led many conspiratorial types to wonder whether Stepan was indeed faking that his jaw had been broken, and that he'd had surgery on it before shockingly playing in Game 5 last night.
People in Montreal were really mad. But more to the point it really doesn't seem all that smart for a guy who just broke his jaw like four days earlier to go into a game that probably isn't all that crucial (if they lose, they're still up 3-2) against a team that has basically threatened to target other Rangers' injuries. But maybe it's not hard to play with a broken jaw even as guys are taking runs at you, because I mean Stepan just did it the other night.
Oh, what's that? It is hard. What do you know.
6. “Look, I'm not a dork or anything”
It's well known that the Nashville Predators often relied on “advanced stats” and “analytics” under Barry Trotz. That will apparently carry over into his new gig with the Capitals, but every time he's mentioned it in the past few days, he has quickly followed it with the caveat that he really will watch all the games and everything too. Honest.
It's hilarious that this needs to be said. Only an absolute idiot would ever imply that anyone, let alone an actual NHL coach, would be able to rely on corsi/fenwick, zone starts, and entries and exits, to determine how well a team is playing. But these are the people to whom these statements of reassurance are no doubt being made.
“Well jeez believe me guys I plan to actually look at the ice while I'm standing behind the bench,” Trotz all but said at his press conference. “They told me when I got the job that I can't wear a blindfold behind the bench like I did in Nashville, and I promised not to constantly use my graphing calculator, except during TV timeouts. Anyway I have watched hockey before and I am not reading these statements off a spreadsheet of any kind.”
Yeah, we know Barry. You live in your own house and not in a basement. Fine.
No one should have to say this kind of stuff. It's 2014. Jesus.
5. Accusing people of fakin' it
Hey remember how much the Habs liked it when Mark Recchi said Max Pacioretty was faking his concussion? Haha. What a life. That was only like three years ago. Quelle ironique.
If Dan Carcillo had put Danny Briere in the hospital with a broken jaw, and Brad Richards said he was faking, can you imagine the crying we'd be put through? It would make all the complaining about the Bruins look like a minor hiccup. “Stay classy, Rangers,” and all that nonsense.
This garbage is insufferable. Maybe he wouldn't even be in a position to fake his injury — which by the way he is not — if he hadn't gotten run by a talentless thug a full second after he released the puck. Just a theory.
Canada didn't invent hockey after all? Tough bounce. Stick to lacrosse.
3. The Islanders
You really can't undersell how important it was for the Islanders to go out and get a goalie. Any goalie was probably going to be better than anyone they used the last few seasons, but one whose career numbers are comfortably above league average is a huge improvement.
The Islanders aren't a great team yet. Lots of problems in their own end in particular, but they're almost certainly going to allow far fewer goals this year than last, and even if the PK doesn't improve, that's going to mean extra wins. It really wouldn't be shocking at all if, just because of this one transaction, they became a team with a point total in the low 90s. Not sure that gets them into the playoffs, of course, but it's a hell of a lot better than finishing between Florida and Carolina.
2. Ordering off the menu
Brian MacLellan was a name that probably zero people outside the Capitals organization saw coming as a successor to George MacPhee. It's really tough to say this is in any way a good hire because we don't know who interviewed for the job besides him (we know, though, that Ray Shero was definitely on the list, and simply not-hiring him counts as a win as far as anyone should be concerned), but man is this a weird one.
He seems to have basically gotten the job because he said, “Hey I know a lot about this organization already but I worked in the basement and Ted Leonsis couldn't pick me out of a lineup. Anyway think of the cost of the HR on-boarding for, like, Don Sweeney. This is the economical choice. Also I work in player development not free agent acquisition.”
Smart stuff. Maybe a sign of shrewd management abilities. If he can trick other GMs as easily as he tricked the people in the hiring process into thinking he's somehow an outsider in all this, we might see Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in Washington two seasons from now, because MacLellan will have traded Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle for the first and second overall picks.
1. The Kings
They look unstoppable right now. Even Jonathan Quick continuing to be decidedly mediocre in this postseason (.911) isn't enough to slow them down. All those goals. That power play. And they have the puck the entire friggin' game. How does anyone slow them down?
(Not ranked this week: Dan Carcillo.
Speaking of Carcillo, what a moron. I saw yesterday he plans to appeal the automatic 10-game suspension, apparently because he doesn't understand what “automatic” means. Which I guess isn't surprising. It's really simple: Don't put hands on the officials. They're the one in stripe-y shirts. You have to be a true dumbass to think that what Carcillo did was ever going to fly.
The good news for the Rangers is that they now definitively do not have to play Carcillo in any remaining playoff games.)