[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.]
8. The Leafs, still in the news
In a shocking turn of events, the Toronto Maple Leafs did something this week to distract from the fact that they missed the playoffs again in spectacular fashion.
Brendan Shanahan in, no one (as of today) out.
Which is an odd way to go about things if you're an organization built, presumably, on accountability. After all, the terms “culture” and “identity” were thrown around a lot by Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis, the two men at the helm of this shambolic wreck, and they've shown very little inclination to change it of their own volition. So now Shanahan has to do it, under a rather focused microscope and with very little room for error; if the Leafs make the playoffs again next year (doubtful if Carlyle remains the coach), then all the better. If not, why was he brought in?
The good news is that Shanahan says he's read up on corsi and fenwick, a novel approach here in 2014, at least in Toronto, and has said that if a losing team isn't looking at all available options to evaluate themselves, then they're not doing things correctly. Please, no one show him this list of real quotes from Leafs front-office types, rife as they are with hilarious poo-pooing of counterintuitive nonsense.
Maybe Shanahan can do for the Leafs what he did for Player Safety: Come in hot, then immediately back off when everyone gets mad at him for the decisions he's being paid to make. No problem at all!
7. Sticking to your guns
Another team that seems reluctant to fire a coach who a) really deserves it, and b) is sticking fiercely to his guns is the Washington Capitals, where no amount of player-related bus-throwings or pitiful performances appears to have been enough to get Adam Oates canned just yet.
Remember, this was a team everyone thought would be pretty good (not great, but this is the Eastern Conference we're talking about, so y'know) and instead was flat-out bad for most of the second half. It would have been a lot worse, of course, had Alex Ovechkin not scored 51 goals this season.
And yet, here's Oates on his star player's quality this season: “He can't score 50 goals and be a minus-35. It's counterproductive ... he is the identity. We go as he goes.”
Right, because the Capitals' real problem was that too many players were following Ovechkin's lead. Yup. Good stuff from the coach. Who, by the way, Ovechkin wants back behind the bench next season. But he doesn't want blame for the way the season went. But he wants the coach who said he's to blame for the season because the team saw his minus-35 and said, “Me too.” Yeah, this is going great.
6. The end of an era
Barry Trotz is finally out in Nashville, and it really makes sense because this is the first time the Preds have missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons since 2003-04. And look, I...
Wait a second here the Nashville Predators have made the playoffs seven times in the last 10 seasons? And they've had how many scorers break 70 points ever? Just four? So why isn't there a Barry Trotz statue in front of Bridgestone Arena, exactly?
Someone had to pay for two seasons like this, obviously, and Trotz was the man holding the bag. David Poile, who hasn't given Trotz much to work with up front the last few seasons, wasn't going to fire himself. Their leading scorer, who had 56 points, was a defenseman, and that says it all in terms of the tools Trotz had before him.
As good a player as Seth Jones is, the fact that he fell to them and not, say, Jonathan Drouin, is a tragedy in a lot of ways. That kid would have been a difference-maker for this team in a way that Jones cannot be. They were dead last in goals last season, 20th this year. Things aren't going to get better in this regard any time soon. And it's too bad. They have a good group of guys in place, but they need a scoring forward or three if they're ever going to get anywhere at all.
Shea Weber can only do so much by himself, and whoever takes over there is going to have his work cut out for him.
Martin Brodeur's career with the New Jersey Devils came to a likely end on Sunday, and afterward he couldn't help but act like he's still good at hockey. Which he categorically is not.
Sayeth Marty: “Not playing as much, that's an obvious one. It was difficult. And again, the position the coaching staff was in with having two goalies as No. 1s, it just doesn't work. It didn't work in Vancouver. It didn't work here too good. We didn't make the playoffs. I think it's important when you have one good goalie you have to give him the bulk of the work. [Schneider] will get that from now on."
This clearly ignores the fact that he should have gotten it all along; Brodeur blamed the lack of playing time he received on — get this — his being overly prepared for the season. He came in ready to play more games than he did. That's why he posted a .901 save percentage. For the second year in a row. And those followed a .908 season. And that one was after a .903 campaign. Man, if only Marty had come in ready to play more games than that. Four years ago.
Get out of the league, Marty. We're done here. More specifically, you are.
4. Frontier justice
Not normally being one to condone fighting in any form, it sure was nice to see Justin Johnson, all 73 inches and 220 pounds of him, get John Scott all wobbly-kneed. No one deserves it more. Good work, Mr. Johnson. You are a nice boy.
Fighting is still bad and pointless and for idiots, by the way.
Well both teams ate big ol' turd pies this year, but you gotta give it to the Flames and Canucks for keeping things interesting right to the end. You'll remember this is the team that had a full-on line brawl to start a game, then one coach try to fight the other after the first period.
And because these teams are these teams, the fact that Sunday's matinee was literally meaningless did nothing to stop things getting extraordinarily ugly. Paul Byron of all people boarded the hell out of Daniel Sedin — accidentally, he says, and apparently the league believed him because he didn't get a hearing or a fine — and that got John Tortorella all hot and bothered once again, as you might expect.
The amount of respect Tortorella seems to have for Flames coach Bob Hartley is roughly negative a trillion, and this did nothing to soothe any hard feelings on the issue. He said he doesn't like the way Hartley runs teams, he says he doesn't like the way his teams play, he said he might have tried to fight him (again).
So then Brian Burke, who's never been shy about speaking his mind and commenting on what other teams are getting up to at any given time, took offense that Tortorella was speaking his mind and commenting on what another team was up to. Said some mean stuff.
Fortunately, all this arguing meant everyone forgot both these teams missed the playoffs by wide margins. And really, that's what's most important here, isn't it?
2. Underrated defensemen
Well, if you're a defenseman with an expiring contract and you don't literally just lie down at the top of the faceoff circles and start crying every time the puck comes into the defensive zone, I have some very good news for you. If Andy MacDonald can pull six years and $30 million, you can too, provided you can find a GM as bad at giving out contracts as Paul Holmgren (unlikely).
This is a bad contract. Not so much the money, because even as people still see it as being somehow first-pairing money, $5 million a season really isn't that any more. And sure, a raise of more than 900 percent to a guy whose team is clearly better without him on the ice than with is a lot of money, but you can't really fault the guy for trying to get paid. That's what Dave Bolland is doing: Seeking silly money. If someone pays it to you, it wasn't that silly, all things considered.
But now any time a guy, like, say, TJ Brodie or PK Subban, both of whom are up for extensions this summer, has their hands out, they can point to that MacDonald contract and say, “Well hey look at what that bum is getting.” Make no mistake, MacDonald is a flat-out bum. He's a No. 6 or 7 defenseman at the very best, and played over his head in a limited role in Long Island before last season. Then he started drowning.
Now, Subban was going to get paid anyway, but Brodie, with his effective own-zone play can now demand that Calgary make with the money. He deserves it. MacDonald doesn't. This is the NHL.
I couldn't be more excited if I tried.
(Not ranked this week: The realization that we probably only have a handful of Teemu games left.
The fact of the matter is that Teemu Selanne hasn't played a ton this year and, in fact, has been a healthy scratch for more than a few games of late. One wonders just how much Bruce Boudreau plans on using him in the postseason.
But even beyond that, say he gets into every game the Ducks play before they're eliminated. That's still, if we're being generous, between six and 14 more games before we never see Teemu Selanne play hockey again? Ugh, I'm so depressed just thinking about it. Man, I really hate Luke Schenn.)
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