[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. Meaning it
Carey Price is hurt! It's all Chris Kreider's fault! And so on. Canadiens fans, who feel slighted if the wind is blowing in a direction that displeases them, have turned on poor Kreider with the fury of 20,000 boos, and the Montreal media has taken to trying to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt — Eugene Melnyk-style — that he totally meant to end Price's series, and possibly season.
This ignores, of course, that Kreider was tripped into Price and was skating at full speed (which for a skater of Kreider's quality is “very fast indeed”). That did not stop Michel Therrien from saying before Game 2 that the play was reckless. Kreider, to his credit, found that quite enjoyable. He also went out and dominated the game.
Kreider tells Post: "I thought [pre-game hubbub] was hilarious. It lit a fire under my ass that I don't think is going away any time soon."— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) May 20, 2014
So no, Chris Kreider didn't mean to hurt Carey Price, and while he probably doesn't feel great about having done so, he's also not going to complain that he's facing Dustin Tokarski instead. That's hockey. He did, however, mean to devour Alexei Emelin in transition, and that's something he's going to try to do again and again.
6. The Ryan Miller trade
It seems so long ago that the St. Louis Blues decided they needed to make an upgrade in goal if they were going to advance to the Stanley Cup they so richly deserved, and then traded for Ryan Miller instead. To say that went sideways in a hurry is to understate things considerably, as he posted a .903 save percentage in his 19 regular-season games, then followed that up with an .897 number in that first-round crashout.
As a result, it seems both sides are basically saying, “Well, that sure didn't work out. See ya never.”
Good move by the Blues to let him walk, rather than try to re-sign him and get something back to save a little bit of face, but it doesn't excuse how awful that deal was in the first place. Not only did Miller provide a downgrade from Jaroslav Halak — and even in the best of circumstances wouldn't have been an upgrade worth the price — but they also gave up a first-round pick and a kid who has more than a point a game over his last three QMJHL seasons. And they had to deal with the indignity of having Steve Ott on their team. Gross.
This is unequivocally one of the worst trades of the last few years. There wasn't a thing about it that went well, including the fact that it forced St. Louis to give Brian Elliott three more years. At least Jake Allen might be okay.
And hey, as far as Miller goes, what could possibly go wrong if he signs in San Jose? I don't see a problem there at all.
5. Keeping Bylsma?
Ray Shero had to go and of that there can be no doubt. No matter how many media members came to his defense last week (mainly because he returns their texts and seems like a nice fellow), it was hard to paper over the fact that he dismantled the team's depth for the purposes of overpaying Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi and Pascal Dupuis. It was hard to paper over the fact that this team really isn't very good. It was hard to paper over the fact that the Pens were constantly crashing out of the playoffs because of the team's insistence on sticking with a goalie who's not very good. It was realllllllly hard to paper over the fact that one forward drafted by the team since Shero took over in 2006 is on the roster today.
People were a little surprised to see Shero go. Most probably figured he'd get at least one more kick at the can. People downright shocked that Dan Bylsma didn't join him on the unemployment line. Maybe that's understandable. He's far more the face of the franchise's failures over the last few years than Shero, even if he was being asked to build a liveable house with some cork board and a toy hammer (plus that delusion the roster was any good still prevails today).
But where a lot of observers have it wrong is that they think this means Bylsma is safe. He is very much not. The new GM the Penguins bring in — not Pat Brisson, which was a hilarious suggestion for a while there — gets to make the call on the coach, and I wouldn't expect him to be around come September. The thing that's come out a lot in the wake of this decision, and one of the big reasons that Bylsma was expected to go, is that he seems to have “lost the room,” as they say. Or at least, he's lost the two small parcels of the room where Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sit, and that's enough of the room to warrant anyone no longer coaching in Pittsburgh.
On some level, though, the lack of a coaching change has to stem from two things: 1) There are a lot of vacancies out there right now, and getting into a shoving match with all those other teams isn't a particularly great idea, and 2) Few if any of them are going to be better than Bylsma. The switch is still coming, but getting a better look at the landscape isn't a bad idea at all.
4. Being a cool and even-keeled dude
Milan Lucic seems like a nice guy. Everyone really roots for people like him to succeed in this sport. Or at least, they have to say they do if they don't want to get speared in the testicles.
Maybe guys who write books about how bullying is bad shouldn't discourage kids from relating tales of their being bullied by implying that anyone who says they were bullied is “being a baby.”
But hey do whatever you want, Milan. Please don't [expletive]ing kill me.
Johnny Gaudreau is a player people, particularly those in Calgary, should be excited about. Not just because he leads the U.S. In scoring at the World Championships, and not just because he scored this highlight-reel goal that grabbed so many headlines yesterday.
(And honestly, that goal might actually be the least impressive thing he did in the game. Flames reporter Darren Haynes put together this collection of highlights, and I recommend clicking through them all. That first assist is disgusting.)
But how about this for a stat on Gaudreau? He has now played 48 games this season across the NCAA, NHL, and international levels, and in them, he has 91 points. Now sure, 80 of those came in 40 games against college talent, but he scored in his only NHL game ever, and is lighting up pros at Worlds. There were some significant questions about whether Gaudreau would be able to compete against full-grown men because he's listed somewhat generously as 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, but as of right now, we have no evidence that he can be stopped by conventional weapons.
2. Darryl Sutter
People really, really, really want Darryl Sutter to admit what they all know in their heart of hearts is true of the Kings: They're a defensive team. After all, if they weren't a defensive team, why do they give up so few goals? Doesn't make a lot of sense, buddy!
Sutter, though, isn't biting. Because the Kings aren't a defensive team. They are a defensively responsible team that can score a lot of goals. Headed into last night, their goals per game was second-highest in the playoffs behind only San Jose, and their goals allowed per game was fifth.
This has been going on for a while now (here's a story on the subject from March). The Kings dominate possession because they're good at everything. Have been for years. Sorry to disappoint.
1. Rick Nash
Hey remember how everyone thought Rick Nash was human garbage in the first two rounds because he couldn't get any goals past the Flyers or Penguins and was therefore a complete bust whose career was over?
Yeah now he has goals in two straight games in the Eastern Conference Final, and heck if he hasn't been magnificent in doing it. Go figure that a guy who leads the postseason with 56 shots in 16 games (3.5 per) and won a Rocket Richard trophy once would not go without scoring a goal forever. So weird how that happens, I guess.
(Not ranked this week: Eulogy decriers.
Just as the elimination of unworthy teams from the Stanley Cup Playoffs is an annual rite through which all but one organization must pass, so too is the publication of the Puck Daddy eulogies for those cast-aside clubs. And just as that publication is an annual rite, so too is the emergence of sad fanboys who think that eulogies in general are pretty funny and good, but that this particular eulogy was for some reason not up to the standards seen in the past. So weird how that works, isn't it?)