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Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Olympic threats, stat geeks and Habs hot seat

Ryan Lambert
Puck Daddy

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[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. Being a cool dude who doesn't even own a calculator, bro

The use of so-called advanced stats in hockey gets a bad rap, mainly because people have apparently learned nothing about the evolution of their mainstream acceptance in baseball and basketball.

It certainly doesn't help when luminaries of the game line up against these statistics as well. While jokers like Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle, among many others, clearly put no stock in what these statistics can tell you about the sport, their opinions could be easily dismissed. But when the true giants of the sport lend the considerable heft of their opinion to the discussion, you have to sit up and take notice.

The Ottawa Senators were asked this week to do a little word association, on hockey terms like “top cheese” and “butterfly.” And also “corsi.” Some had never heard of it, or didn't know how it worked. Others, like superstars Chris Neil and Matt Kassian, said it was “for losers” and “way overrated.”

One can see how they would form such opinions, given that Neil and Kassian are 21st and 24th (out of 26 skaters) on the Senators in corsi share. They don't have to care about it because it has nothing to do with their games. If they had to care about their corsi they'd have retired long ago. That's fair enough.

But as to the point that it's “for losers,” one must once again consider that the top teams in the league in corsi almost always tend to be the top teams in the league in the standings. Maybe that's just a coincidence for the seventh year in a row of the Behind the Net era. Can't expect Neil to know that, though. He's too busy getting third-line minutes on a 12th-place team.

As for Pete DeBoer's assertion that the New Jersey goaltenders' save percentages are misleading, well, sometimes people are just wrong about stats that are in no way advanced. That happens too.

6. Bilingualism

The Habs are a tire fire at this point, and while they're still in a playoff spot, they won't be for much longer if they keep playing like, well, this. But the general consensus seems to be that no matter how badly things go this season (likeliest answer: “very”), they're not going to show Michel Therrien the door at least until the offseason.

The reason for this is, or at least should be, pretty clear: The number of coaches out there who fit all the qualifications for holding the Montreal job is extremely small.

First, they have to be able to coach at an NHL level. That, already, dwindles the number of candidates to maybe five dozen guys in the entire world.

Second, they need to be able to handle a crush of media inquiries every day, and for every decision they make. This, too, probably doesn't benefit some coaches, so let's say the number of guys you're down to is 40 on a global level.

Third, they need to speak both French and English. That's going to gut the number of guys down even more considerably. What are there, like, 15 guys on earth who fit that bill (or 14 if we're discounting Therrien)? And how many of them already have pretty stable and/or new jobs? Claude Julien, Kirk Muller, Patrick Roy, and Alain Vigneault are all current NHL coaches who could tick that box on an application but aren't going any-damn-where. So there goes half the list. The rest are assistants in the NHL, or head coaches in Europe, the AHL, maybe junior hockey.

That really ties your hands — and so too does the crybaby Quebec government telling you that you absolutely must have a Francophone coach — and the last time they put someone in, even in the interim, who didn't qualify, poor Randy Cunneyworth was all but pelted with garbage in the streets.

Can't imagine why anyone wouldn't jump at that job.

5. Whatever we're calling this

Is it technically a slewfoot if you just kick the guy in the ass? Still, a bold strategy to employ against a hill giant.

4. No Olympics?

Lots of talk in the last few days about the possibility of the security threat being so real that the NHL might either not allow its players to go over to Sochi at all, or pull them mid-way through. Bill Daly, of course, says it would take “something significant” happening for the league to do that at this late date, but one has to consider it a very real possibility.

This has a lot to do with the judiciousness of even holding the Olympics in a region that is, shall we say, as divided as Southwestern Russia and its neighbors. Things have been going great in Georgia and the Ukraine lately, right? The good news is that there can be little doubt that Putin's goons will be out in full force over the next few weeks rounding up all the dangerous terrorists and gays, and that given the location of the athletes' village and rink where all the hockey games will be played, the NHL's players are likely to be the safest of anyone in Sochi (see items 26-28).

Maybe, though, staying home from Sochi would be for the best.

3. Steven Stamkos' red blood cells

How is this guy practicing with his team already? How many stem cells did he bathe in every day? This is crazy in the best way possible.

2. Teams with forwards they can move

The one thing you're hearing over and over again in the run-up to the first of the league's two trade deadlines is that a lot of teams are in the market for scoring forwards. The Avs, maybe. The Kings, definitely. The Blues, perhaps. The Penguins, probably.

All of which means that it's going to be a cattle call if you have just such a forward available. If you're, say, the Flames, Sabres, Panthers, Oilers, Islanders, or Stars, you're almost certainly going to get a call about that second-line wing collecting dust and racking up points even as your team continues to get clobbered. The problem, it seems, is that there's a weird type of stratification in the league today. Very little separates the top teams, and that second tier from 60 to the mid-50s (pretenders, really) is probably going to be a little hungry for those guys too. And then at the bottom of the league is a whole lot of trash.

That means a big pool of teams that think they're good enough, and they're going to be sniffing around for sure. Of course, the longer they wait, the more money they'll be able to take on, so if you're that worried about things getting done before the Olympic break, well, keep worrying.

1. People who like outdoor games

You're probably going to get at least two a season from here on out given how much everyone loved Los Angeles. The only thing the naysayers can hope for now is another moth attack.

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League type:
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League size:
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Draft time:
Aug 27 9:00 am
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