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Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Struggling stars, Olympic crying and big ice

Ryan Lambert
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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.]

9. Those lazy best players alive

The fact that some of the best players on the planet aren't scoring at will in these Olympic games have led to the much-publicized problems with their teams' offenses in general, and if they were any good at all he'd have a million goals by now against these crumb-bums from Latvistan or whatever.

Take, for example, Alex Ovechkin, who's choking in a tournament once again, like he always does. In much the same way he is not carrying the Capitals to a playoff spot — like a loser — he has also scored just two points in four games. Why can't he be a consummate leader like Alex Radulov?

Meanwhile, that awful loser Sidney Crosby has just two points and no goals in three games. This seems like things are shaping up to be just like the last Olympics, in which he was terrible in only getting a point per game and scoring the goal the clinched the gold medal.

He is, frankly, why Canada has been underwhelming, and this has nothing at all to do with...

8. Mike Babcock's roster selection

Mike Babcock is widely considered one of the best coaches in the league for the same reason that Ken Holland is widely considered one of its best GMs. It doesn't take a lot of good thinking to send Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom over the boards every couple of minutes.

And one wonders if he's going to be in much the same boat with Canada in these Olympics. Coaching the Canadian Olympic team is so easy Lindy Ruff could do it, and in fact, he is. You put about two dozen of the best players in the world on a roster, then you put pretty much all of them on lines together. You don't worry about anything but getting a million goals, which is something Canada should be capable of scoring. And yet they haven't. The reason why is because Babcock is overthinking the hell out of this, just like Canada does with every international hockey tournament.

He's already learning the error of his ways in bringing along Chris Kunitz. They included him to be Sidney Crosby's linemate — because it's suuuuuuper hard to play with him — and ended up dropping him from that line almost immediately because, guess what, he's not good. Wow. Who could have guessed? But that didn't work either, and so now when Canada plays Latvia Wednesday, look who's back on Crosby's line simply because they have nowhere else to put him. That thing about Crosby not scoring enough points? Maybe it's because he's saddled with a stiff.

Then there's the matter of the perfunctory P.K. Subban inclusion, which was, it's now apparent, done to mollify the masses rather than give Canada the best chance to win. Subban's ice time through the firs three games of the tournament checks in at 11:41 a night, seventh among Canadian defensemen. That's a decent number if you're rolling seven, except he has only played one game so that Babcock can, instead, give Dan Hamhuis — get this — less than seven minutes a game in the other two.

The good thing is it's not like he's an elite offensive defenseman on the planet and Canada has gone wanting for offense. They scored a combined nine goals in three round robin games against the iron of the Olympics: Norway, Austria, and Finland. And only six of them have come from the same two guys.

Nothing to worry about, Mike. You'd doing a great job.

7. Feeling disrespected

Patrick Kane said that Phil Kessel is “probably the best guy I've ever played with” (and he's right! Phil forever!). Patrick Sharp is realllllly mad.

“He obviously forgot who he plays with back home in Chicago,” said Sharp, through what we can only assume was a deluge of tears and hurt feelings.

Ah yes, he's referring to Jonathan Toews. You know, the Jonathan Toews who has one point in these Olympics and 55 in the NHL this season. That's only six fewer than Phil Kessel in the Olympics and 10 fewer in the NHL!

Jonathan Toews is so much better than Kessel. You can tell.

6. Competition

Pretty much the entire women's tournament has been rightfully marked by people wondering aloud why the U.S. and Canada even bother playing anyone but each other. They're meeting for the gold medal again, probably as you read this, and successfully dispatched their opponents (not including each other) by a combined score of 29-3. Fun stuff.

But because the questions were about women's hockey, in particular, those who were like, “Uhh, isn't all this other stuff ultimately pointless?” were derided as sexists who want to only watch men's hockey ever, and told that the rest of the tournament is competitive. Sure. Drop the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals into your average Little League season and most of the other teams are going to be competitive, but David Ortiz and Matt Carpenter are going to post a combined 1308 OPS+ with 2,200 home runs in a dozen games.

Meanwhile, during this whole Twitter argument about the efficacy of having the North American giants play anyone but each other, the U.S. outshot Sweden 70-9; maybe it's just me, but I feel like if the shot differential is greater than the number of minutes played in a game, the game is perhaps not worthwhile.

More and more people are now saying something needs to be done about this for the good of the sport of women's hockey, and the number of people who say that includes noted sexist Julie Chu. Olympic participation is vital to the survival and growth of the sport, and it's something that should (and will) continue in perpetuity. We need to give women's hockey more time to grow, sure. But we also get to say that everything but U.S./Canada games suck in the meantime.

5. Crying

If the Russian people cared as much about human rights violations as they do correctly-enforced hockey rules, Vladimir Putin would be gay-married right this second. What an awful country.

4. International ice

The conventional wisdom is that with more space on international ice, goalscoring goes up. Anyone who watches any amount of hockey played at high levels on 200-by-100 surfaces knows that this is, of course, ludicrous.

To wit, there aren't too many teams scoring the expected metric ton of goals in Sochi; the 12 teams combined to score 90 goals in the opening round, over 18 games. That's just 5.0 goals per game total, or 2.5 per team per game. The NHL average for this season so far is a little less than 5.31, or 2.66 per. It should stand to reason, one would think, that the higher-quality of players that are generally brought together

Meanwhile, teams scored 107 goals in 18 games of the preliminary rounds in Vancouver on NHL ice. That's nearly an extra goal per game combined (5.94), or half a goal per team per game (2.97). The NHL average that season, by those same metrics, was 5.53 and 2.77.

Let's hope this puts to rest the idea that if the rink was 200-by-100, offense goes up. It doesn't.

3. Buzzer-beaters

It's not often you see an actual buzzer-beater in hockey, but this goal from the game between UMass Lowell and UMass certainly qualifies. The game-winning goal, scored by Lowell defenseman Joe Houk, crossed the line with 0.1 seconds to go in the game. It was the ninth game in a row the Minutemen lost to their in-state rivals, and undoubtedly the biggest gut-punch yet.

2. Inferiority complexes

We in hockey know all too well that when people act like other sports are better, they must be derided and made fun of forever because Hockey Is The Best and if you don't think so you're a moron and probably a sissy! This is the kind of thinking that breeds misogynist and often racist or xenophobic memes.

Fortunately, it turns out that the less popular your sport is, the more likely you are to act this way. What other way can we explain the boo-hooism of skiing commentator Brian Stemmle, who tweeted that the Stanley Cup shouldn't be at the Olympics. Because he “hate[s] when hockey tries to overshadow other sports.” Good lord.

Have these other sports considered that the Stanley Cup is only at the Olympics to team up with the gold medal and remind Alex Ovechkin of two trophies he'll never win?

1. The Kessels

They're the first family of hockey! In their combined seven Olympic games so far, Phil and Amanda Kessel have combined for 7-6-13 for the good old United States of America. They are the greatest. We love the Kessels. Pew pew pew.

(Not ranked this week: Ondrej Pavelec staring down a 2-on-1 with Joe Pavelski and Phil Kessel; Switzerland's medal chances; the Canadian media's attempts to prop up the Swiss as a worthy opponent; Alex Radulov's supporters (until yesterday); the Slovaks; Changing the rules because the Russians lost; Austria; Canadian forwards; Alex Semin; Alex Ovechkin; Alex Radulov; This dude; that weird Olympic bear.)

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