[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. Changing the rules
The following is a list of rule changes I would like to see the NHL adopt while the league's general managers fecklessly fiddle around with not-really-changing the impact of shootouts, and maybe moving the hash marks back for some reason:
1) Puck over the glass results in the offending team not being able to make a change rather than getting a minor.
2) If a goal is scored on a delayed penalty, the offending team still serves the penalty.
3) The guy who committed any minor penalty stays in the box for two minutes regardless of how many goals a team scores (Fun fact: This used to be the rule until the Canadiens started scoring two or three goals on nearly every power play they got; in 1955-56, they scored more than one in every four power play goals in the entire six-team league.)
4) Go to a three-point standings system.
5) Let guys kick the puck into the goal. Let them run at it like Cristiano Ronaldo if they want to.
6) Fire the trapezoid into the sun.
7) Crack down on fighting by suspending guys for getting into more than x number of fights. You pick the number, but keep it in the single digits. Watch how quickly useless fighters get run out of the league. Everyone benefits.
8) Stop it with this dumb playoff format. Even the GMs didn't understand it as recently as the early part of this season.
9) No more shootout.
Look, if GMs and players alike don't like the shootout then who is it for? Fans, they say. Yeah, the NHL has shown in the past it cares so so so much about the fans, eh? They're willing to sacrifice the integrity of the standings for fan enjoyment of a thing that happens only sometimes. Sorry about those lockouts, guys.
7. Phil Kessel's speed
This was the second of Kessel's three points in a 3-1 road win in which the Leafs were outshot 44-23 by the Ducks; he and Jonathan Bernier's continued inexplicable brilliance are the only reason the Leafs won that game.That blue line-to-blue line time is ludicrous.
6. Having a good stick (see also: Great linemates)
Speaking of the Leafs, and their ability to keep winning games, there is this:
What stats don't show - good sticks. Bozak has one. His tipped puck provided Kessel with breakaway.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) March 11, 2014
Leaving aside the fact that the “good stick” was shown in an obscure advanced stat known as “a primary assist,” there is this strange push to convince everyone that Tyler Bozak is in fact a No. 1 NHL center and not just a guy who happens to play between an elite NHL scoring winger and a very good first-line winger. His WOWY stats show that in terms of goalscoring and shot production (both for and against), Kessel and James van Riemsdyk are both significantly better without Bozak between them than with him.
There may, at some point, be something behind the fact that no other center on the Leafs seems to produce as well with these two as Bozak this season, but there's also the fact that his on-ice shooting percentage is gigantic; he leads the league in that category individually. Data from the previous two seasons (here and here) shows that Kessel continues to produce consistently higher numbers when separated from Bozak.
But the latest counter-agument being made in Bozak's favor is that he makes the Leafs power play better; after all, Kessel and van Riemsdyk only score power play goals every 8 and 8.5 minutes, respectively, but Bozak's number comes in at 7 minutes per goal. That's more than Kessel! He must be really good!
Except that he's only third on the team in this ridiculous statistic behind — get this — Dave Bolland and Trevor Smith. Then you have to leapfrog Joffrey Lupul and Mason Raymond before you get to Kessel at No. 6 on the list. Free advice when putting together stats: If it says that Dave Bolland and Trevor Smith are better than Phil Kessel, it's not a stat worth talking about.
How does almost no one in the Toronto media look at his shooting percentage (22.1 versus his career average 16.6) and say anything but “Why isn't anyone else pretty worried about this?” Is it because they all think corsi is for nerds, and they're not nerds?
5. Cold-cocking a guy
Gotta give a big old shout out to the NHL Department of Player Safety for only hitting Jordan Nolan — who by the way is considered a repeat offender — with a one-gamer for taking a pot shot on Jesse Joensuu, who was tied up by the linesman, and while he was looking the other way, and after the rest of the scrum had settled down.
One friggin' game. Shawn Thornton got off lightly with 15 for his assault on Brooks Orpik, and while this was certainly not as bad, it also wasn't 14-games-less bad. “Player Safety” is right in the job description, right? In what was is sucker-punching someone not a direct threat to that?
I don't understand suspending to the injury on a big open-ice hit; it is, after all, part of the game. Something like this is not part of the game, and therefore suspending to the injury is ludicrous. Wouldn't that just encourage Joensuu, or the next guy to get suckered like that, to pretend he had a concussion?
4. Getting help without paying for it
One of the things you always hear after the trade deadline if a guy comes back from a long injury is that “It's like making a trade without actually doing it.” That's just dumb, of course, but the addition of Teuvo Teravainen and Evgeny Kuznetsov to the Blackhawks and Capitals is actually kind of like that.
Kuznetsov already has two NHL games under his belt and has been pretty good; not good enough to be a major difference maker, of course, and he's gotten some pretty big cover from Adam Oates in terms of zone starts and competition, but you can already tell he's going to be a very good player at this level soon. He's arriving much too late for the Caps, as discussed the other day, but a help nonetheless.
However, Teravainen showing up in Chicago is borderline unfair to the rest of the league. He's already one of the best players of his age (just 19) in the world, and when he gets to the NHL in the next few weeks, he looks like he'll add some serious scoring pop for the Blackhawks' second line, which y'know already features Patrick Kane. That doesn't seem very fair at all.
3. Senators schadenfreude
The way the Senators are melting down these days is amazing. They went into the third period on Tuesday night against the remarkably low-scoring Nashville Predators with a 3-0 deficit. They erased it in the third, but then lost 4-3 in overtime on what would have, in any other season, been the most “This team might never win another game again” goal of the year.
Everything about it is perfect, including the Jason Spezza frustrated-crosscheck-after-halfassed-backcheck on goalscorer Seth Jones once the game has been ended.
Here's the amazing thing: They became just the 39th team out of 1,017 since the 2004-05 lockout to blow a lead of three goals or more when entering the third period. And the 33rd to do it in overtime.
2. Canucks schadenfreude
A few hours later, the Canucks became the 40th, and only the seventh to do it in regulation, with perhaps the most remarkable meltdown in NHL history.
You certainly wouldn't have expected anyone at all to blow a 3-0 lead to the Islanders, even if the Canucks entered that game a walking disaster. Shots were 19-13, and the game looked very solidly in control. Then the Isles got three power play goals in 3:36 and made it a game again. Then Frans Nielsen gave them the lead at 6:22. This, already, was calamitous, and the kind of thing you might expect from Vancouver given the dreadful way they've played of late.
Then about three and a half minutes later, Chris Tanev scored on a wacky little goal and the game returned to a reasonable equilibrium; the Islanders had their fun but the Canucks for all their poorness are clearly better overall, and might try to win this one in overtime. But because they've 100 percent quit on John Tortorella at this point — can there really be any other explanation for it? — Matt Martin scored 10 seconds later to put the Canucks down another goal.
Then Anders Lee scored 1:41 after that to shovel more dirt onto the casket. Then Cal Clutterbuck added an empty netter from his defensive zone. And it was seven goals in 19:42 for one of the worst teams in the league, on the road, against one that can't stop slipping in its own feces.
The term “limitless joy” is thrown around a lot these days, but watching these highlights — and you gotta start with the Canucks 3-0 lead to get the full effect of the series of gutpunches the Isles delivered — brings you pretty close. Unless you're a Canucks fan. Then it's limitless depression. And man, do I ever get it.
1. The Dallas Stars' medical staff
They saved a man's life this week, which is really incredible if you think about it. Rich Peverley is one of my absolute favorite hockey players and so to see the events of Monday night was truly horrifying. So glad he's recovering, but I hope he does the smart thing for his future health going forward.
(Not ranked this week: Anyone dumb enough to use Rich Peverley asking to go back into the game after coming out of a serious health crisis as proof that HAWKEY PLAYAHS AH WARRIAHS and all other athletes — specifically LeBron James —are sissies. This has been going on for a while now, and it felt like it came to a head when Gregory Campbell got his leg broken by a slap shot last spring, but it's gotten worse and — let's face it — more racially charged recently.
This of course sparked a meme that had a picture of James grimacing and reads, “Carried off the court with a leg cramp,” and then under it, a picture of Peverley with, “Dies on the bench, is revived, and asks to be put back in the game.” Hey morons, the fact that Peverley wanted back into the game after having literally died for a little while there is not, in fact, praiseworthy. He likely had little idea what had happened to him, and had just woken up from having been not-alive, to put things in the bluntest terms. Maybe you say his decision-making was not what it should have been, rather than thinking he's the bravest man alive.
Let's be honest here, though, this all stems from the fact that hockey fans are both scared and insulted that no one will ever respect this sport. Basketball is more popular than hockey — and, again, has more black guys in it — and is thus something to be assailed; LeBron James is literally among the most naturally-gifted athletes ever to come out of another human being, and therefore the perception is that he is soft, and doesn't work hard, and doesn't have THE HAHT OF A CHAMPEEIN like all hockey players -- except Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane and PK Subban, just coincidentally I'm sure -- do. If he wants to be seen as tough, he better die on the court and try to keep playing as well, right?
The people who put that meme together and then spread it around are sad, scared little boys, worried that no one else is going to approve of their sport. Grow up. This bull[expletive] is pathetic. And no I NEVAH PLAYED THE GAME so I'm sure I'm just as much of a sissy as LeBron. Fire away, cretins.
The headline about the Peverley incident on NHL.com yesterday was something about, “Finding perspective,” and you really wish, for the sake of humanity, these goons could actually do that.)