[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.]
10,243. The Kings
Morally, a $100,00 fine was too good for them.
For some idiotic reason, the Kings thought it would be a good idea to let Slava Voynov, who is suspended by the league from all team activities, and also carrying some rather grave domestic violence charges, practice with his club.
Because he practiced.
With his team.
For their part the Kings thought they were safe because it was an optional, rather than mandatory, practice. One which literally everyone on the roster attended by some crazy quirk. And even if half the guys were there, it would still be a hot deuce of an excuse, because a team activity is a team activity, obviously. This was like the Kings telling a teacher the dog ate their homework when the teacher knows for a fact they don't have a dog.
Now, whether this plays into the Ray Rice decision or Dean Lombardi basically giving the league an [expletive]-you, the fact of the matter is that the real people to whom the Kings extended a middle finger yesterday are victims of domestic violence. Remember, when Voynov was initially suspended, the league and team alike were quick to condemn his actions, especially because of all the NFL nonsense that had taken place not too long before that. People, apparently mistaken, thought this was a good look because it showed the Kings took domestic violence raps seriously.
We know now that they do not. They respect victims here about as much as the NFL does, which is to say: Not at all.
7. Norris voting
As a general rule, I don't put a lot of stock into the stat GVT (“goals versus threshold”) because it is extremely imperfect and quirky. It will spit out all kinds of weird numbers that make you wonder what the hell is happening.
For those that don't know, GVT is essentially trying to turn all the hockey stats we have available to us into one number, in much the way WAR does in baseball. Again, it's not perfect, but this week's latest numbers showed something astonishing.
Currently, GVT's formula believes that Mark Giordano has added and/or saved the most goals (9.2) of anyone in the league apart from Sidney Crosby, who doesn't lead him by very much (10). Which is nuts. Most people don't watch a lot of Flames games and it's hard to blame them, but the legend of Giordano seems to grow by the day and his candidacy for the Norris trophy, which was hampered last year only by an injury that held him out of the lineup for a while, becomes more legitimate all the time. As well it should.
After that, you have the rest of the top five: Vladimir Tarasenko at No. 3 (8.9 goals), Tyler Seguin (8.6 goals), and … TJ Brodie? Yup, TJ Brodie, Giordano's defense partner, is the fifth-most valuable player in the league. I've long said both could be Norris-caliber defensemen, but at the same time, I'm not so sure.
There's no disagreeing at this point who in fact is the best defensive pairing in the league. It's these two in a runaway. They lead the Flames' offense, they anchor their defense, and they play the some of toughest competition in the league because no one else on that roster is capable of doing anything close.
They really can't get enough due from voters this year. Right now they ought to run Nos. 1 and 2.
6. The Guarantee Pt. 2
Reilly Smith was in a bit of a scoring slump headed into Monday's game against the Ducks, having not snuck a puck past a goaltender in his last eight games. To that end, he did something that was probably pretty stupid.
Quoth Smith: “It's a guarantee. Mark Messier. Guarantee.”
Unsurprisingly, Smith went 0-fer on four shots and was on the ice for a goal against, because when you're not Mark Messier — one of the better players in the history of hockey, some might say — maybe you don't go around making promises like that. Especially if you have four goals in 25 games.
5. Ed Snider
You're not helping, Ed.
The famous Flyers owner is well-known for trying to tell his employees how to do their jobs, and this week was no different, with him grumbling from behind a too-large leather jacket about secondary scoring and whatnot.
I said this last week but it really is legitimately confusing that a team as bad as the Flyers is, like, so super-duper shocked they can't win a lot of games. Their problems are myriad, but if you want to talk about secondary scoring problems, you really don't need to look much farther than what they pay their various forwards.
Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds are basically bulletproof here, and rightly so. They've all been great as usual. But Voracek and Simmonds are Nos. 4 and 5 in the team's forward salary obligations, behind a pair of anchors in the guise of RJ Umberger and Vinny Lecavalier, the latter of whom has lately been a well-deserved healthy scratch. Total cost for those guys? Just $9.1 million. For this season. And the next. And the one after that as well.
That'll hamstring you, no two ways about it. Then you add in $5.25 million for Mark Streit, $5 million for Andrew MacDonald, $3.6 million for Luke Schenn, and so on, and a picture begins to emerge: The Flyers spend money like fools, and as a result are often parted from real contention rather soon after the season begins.
So maybe Ed Snider might want to think about where the blame really lies: With the guy signing the checks.
4. Bringing in Marty
I'm torn here. On the one hand, I am baffled and upset by what the Blues are doing with their goaltending situation because Martin Brodeur is terrible at hockey these days. On the other, I am overjoyed by such a vigorous and enthusiastic attempt by any team to torpedo their own season.
By any reasonable measure, the Blues have gotten very good goaltending this year: .931 from Brian Elliott and .918 from Jake Allen. The experiment of going with a middling veteran and actual rookie is going so well. So why on earth do you bring in a guy who hasn't seen the right side of .908 since 2010?
There's no good answer to this question other than, “The Blues don't understand goaltending at a fundamental level.” There's at least a pattern behind that. Last season, they traded Jaroslav Halak to make room for Ryan Miller, who was garbage pretty much immediately upon arrival, and in doing so demolished their own hopes for a Stanley Cup (which, if we're being honest, were faint to begin with). Speaking of Halak, how's he doing these days?
I legitimately just don't get it. Especially because Ken Hitchcock said yesterday that Brodeur was brought in to start. In NHL games! I had to look at the standings when I read that because it was like, “Well, maybe the Blues aren't doing as well as I remember and they just want to shake things up?” But no, as of that signing going official, they were tied for first in their division and second in the league.
The thing with this signing is that everyone is kind of just looking at it through the lens of how weird it's going to be to see Brodeur in anything other than red and black. The black will still be a problem, of course, but anyone who wants to see Marty in red can watch his end of the ice, because that light behind him is going to get a serious workout.
I'll just bring up the thing Greg wrote about yesterday, which highlights how insane people are being about this: “But in the Blues’ system, with the Blues’ defense in front of him … isn’t there a part of you that thinks this could be a genius signing?”
No. There really isn't. Because even if he's good — and he's not going to be — Allen and Elliott have been much, much better than most other goaltenders in the league. This is a move that makes literally no sense at all.
Poor Blue Jackets.
Yesterday it came out that Mark Letestu, who was already out for the entirety of November with a reported groin problem, will be out six more weeks getting surgery on both that and his abdomen. This just a day after Artem Anisimov was revealed to have torn his triceps, and will miss two to three months. The pain train keeps rolling.
Brandon Dubinsky is still out. Ryan Murray is still out. Fedor Tyutin is still out. Nathan Horton is still out. Plus all the other injuries they've suffered this year, I just don't understand how this is possible.
We've seen injuries derail teams' seasons before, but probably never to this extent. This was a team that was pegged to finish near the top of the East, and are instead scraping along the bottom of the league, more in contention for Connor McDavid than a late playoff run. James Mirtle did the math and found the team was on pace for more than 500 man games lost to injury, which is a crazy number.
But I mean, if there was going to be a year in which you're gonna be total garbage, the one with Eichel and McDavid is the right one. There's that. It's a small consolation at this point, I'm sure, but when you're missing half a dozen guys on any given night who were supposed to be big players for you, you've got to take your wins where you can get them.
The Oilers are bad. They are so bad. So, so bad. You could go on saying stuff like this for a while and not be wrong.
This is a deeply flawed team and deeply flawed teams lose a lot of games. Lose-10-in-a-row bad? Probably not. No teams are really that bad, are they? Last year's Sabres, one of the worst teams ever assembled, never lost 10 straight. Hell, they never lost eight straight. (They did, however, lose seven straight on three different occasions.)
Someone's going to get fired very soon and I don't think it's necessarily fair to fire either the new coach or the GM, nor to really trade any of the players who have been bad. I can't imagine there are too many who you'd have to say have been scapegoat-able. Everyone is playing to their abilities, with a certain amount of wiggle room. They just don't have the guns to make any kind of difference this year.
Tough as it is to say, maybe you just let the whole thing burn to cinders and give it another go next year, only after you make some more serious roster changes. They have money to spend. They just need to spend it wisely.
Scott Gomez, really? Get someone up in the bullpen, this has to be it for Lou.
(Not ranked this week: Paying the bills.
I know Mike Ilitch has to pretend like he really needs money to get this new arena built, but paying the electric bill is something anyone should be able to do.)